LOS ANGELES, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Those living in poverty sufferer more from asthma than those with higher incomes, U.S. researchers said.
Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Health Policy Research found low-income Californians with asthma had more frequent symptoms, needed the emergency room or hospitalization more often and missed more days of work and school.
"The poorest among us suffer most because they lack quality healthcare and live in high-risk environments," study co-author Ying-Ying Meng said in a statement. "That disparity also burdens our health system with costly emergency care and hospitalizations and extracts the additional high cost of millions of lost days of work and school."
Meng and colleagues call for healthcare reforms giving greater access to medical care as well as improvements in sub-standard housing, restrictions on secondhand smoke and other policies to help address the environmental factors that contribute to asthma.
The researchers analyzed data from the California Health Interview Survey -- the nation's largest state health survey.
"Low-income communities carry the highest disease burden, largely due to inequities that result in unhealthy environments," says Dr. Robert K. Ross, president of the California Endowment, which funded the study. "For example, you won't see diesel trucks driving through high-income communities, but you will see many driving through poor communities, spewing exhaust full of particulates that serve as asthma triggers."