Can being poor actually increase the chances of a child developing asthma? According to a recent study at the Medical College of Georgia, yes it can. The study analyzed almost 10,000 children to find that there is indeed a link between asthma and living in high-poverty areas.
Why more poor children get asthma
It's not just living in a city that can increase the risk for asthma, as many people believe. There are very specific reasons that point to poverty as a more targeted cause for the increase of asthma among children. Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways, causing wheezing , chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.
In the U.S., 7 million children suffer from asthma, but the risk for children increases when you add these 5 factors:
- Being black - while 10 percent of children have asthma, due perhaps to genetics, 20 percent of black children have asthma.
- Poverty - about 60-70 percent of asthma among children is caused by environment factors, including where they live. Living in poor conditions can increase asthma risk, according to the study.
- Overcrowding - according to the Office for National Statistics, children living in overcrowded homes, more common among low-income families, are three times more likely to have respiratory problems.
- Poor housing - low-income children are more likely to live in poor housing where they are exposed to higher levels of factors that can trigger asthma, including mold, fungi, cockroaches, mice, dust mites and tobacco smoke.
- Undiagnosed - children living in low-income areas are more likely to have asthma that is undiagnosed. The study showed among poor children living in Detroit and in rural Georgia both had undiagnosed asthma at 50 percent of the rate for diagnosed asthma.
The study, which was recently published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, dug deep into the underlying causes of asthma among children. Whether the children in the study lived in the city or in rural areas, the common factor among all those analyzed was poverty.
To read more, visit www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_151937.html