At Risk From Asthma
Asthma, a serious disease that affects the airways, restricting activity and sometimes resulting in death, has risen to epidemic proportions over the past few decades. Asthma rates have increased by 160 percent in young children since 1980. It is the leading chronic illness among children in the United States.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), analysis of 2002 asthma data reveals that 12% of children under age 18 have been diagnosed with asthma.
- It is estimated that 9 million U.S. children under 18 years of age have been diagnosed with asthma, of which 4 million suffered from an asthma attack or episode in the past year.
- The report also found that rates were higher among poor children, at 16% (compared with 11% percent from families that were not poor).
- Children in single-mother families (17%) were more likely to have ever been diagnosed with asthma than children in families that were not poor (11%)
- Asthma accounts for 14 million lost days of school missed annually. It is the leading cause of school absenteeism attributed to chronic conditions.
- According to the National Institutes of Health, direct and indirect costs of pediatric asthma total $3.2 billion annually.
- Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15. Each year 150,000 children are hospitalized due to asthma, and approximately 300 children die (almost a three-fold increase from 1979 to 1996).
- African Americans have emergency department visit, hospitalization and death rates related to asthma that are three times higher than rates for whites.
- Despite the development of more effective medications for asthma, the death rate from asthma has increased in recent years. Between 1980 and 1993, the death rate from asthma for children younger than 19 years increased by 78%.
- According to the American Lung Association, direct health care costs for asthma in the U.S. exceed $8.1 billion annually. The cost of lost productivity adds another $4.6 billion, for a total of $12.7 billion.
- An estimated 200,000 to one million asthmatic children have their condition worsened by exposure to secondhand smoke.