Racial Differences Exist in Asthma Prevalence and Care

Black, Hispanic children more likely to have asthma diagnosis, less likely to see specialist
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- Racial and ethnic differences exist in the prevalence, treatment and outcomes of asthma among children with equal access to medical care, according to a study published online June 7 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

In a retrospective cohort analysis conducted in the Military Health System, Kate A. Stewart, Ph.D., of Mathematica Policy Research Inc. in Washington, D.C., and colleagues evaluated 822,900 children, aged 2 to 17 years, continuously enrolled throughout 2007 in TRICARE Prime (a benefit provided by the Department of Defense).

The researchers found that black and Hispanic children were significantly more likely to have an asthma diagnosis compared to white children, with an odds ratio (OR) ranging from 1.16 to 2.00. In addition, black children of all age groups and Hispanic children between 5 and 10 years of age were significantly less likely to visit an asthma specialist (OR ranging from 0.71 to 0.88) and more likely to have potentially avoidable asthma hospitalizations and asthma-related emergency department visits (OR ranging from 1.24 to 1.99), compared to white children. Black children were also significantly more likely to have filled prescriptions for inhaled corticosteroids compared with their white counterparts (OR, 1.11).

"Despite universal health insurance coverage and access to military treatment facilities, we found evidence of racial and ethnic differences in asthma prevalence and outcomes after adjusting for differences in demographic characteristics and socioeconomic status," the authors write.

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