Asthma affects an estimated 14.5 million Americans. Minority communities suffer disproportionately from the chronic disease.

• Asthma is 26 percent more prevalent among African-American children than among Caucasian children.
• African-American children are three to four times more likely than their Caucasian counterparts to be hospitalized with asthma.
• African-Americans of all ages are three times as likely as Caucasians to be hospitalized from asthma and three times as likely to die from the disease.
• More than 2 million African-Americans in the United States suffer from asthma.
• Minority, inner-city families are more likely to be exposed to asthma risk factors, such as high levels of indoor allergens, including those borne by cockroaches, tobacco smoke, and nitrogen dioxide (a respiratory irritant produced by poorly vented stoves and heating appliances).
• Minorities have difficulty obtaining sufficient follow-up asthma treatment from a qualified health care provider and gaining access to medications, inhalers or nebulizers and other treatments that can help control asthma.
• Studies have identified several candidate genes for asthma, some which may be more common in African-American populations.
• Investigators have identified a genetic change in an immune-signaling molecule involved in asthma and allergic responses that correlates with asthma severity.This change appears to be several-fold more common among African-Americans than among Caucasians.
• Asthma is only slightly more prevalent among African-American children than among Caucasian children. However, African-American children with asthma experience more severe disability and have more frequent hospitalizations than do Caucasian children.
• Although African-Americans represent only 12 percent of the U.S. population,they experience over 21 percent of all asthma deaths.

Source: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. (1998). Asthma in the African-American community fact sheet. Washington, D.C.: Author.

Printed in Volume 1 Issue 8