Discrimination linked to increased pediatric asthma rates

Study finds African-American children who experience discrimination were almost twice as likely to suffer from asthma than their peers.
By Amy Wallace  |  April 20, 2017 at 2:26 PM
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April 20 (UPI) -- A new study shows that African-American children who experience discrimination are at a greater risk of having asthma.

One in 10 children in the United States have asthma, however, asthma disproportionately affects African-American and Latino children more than white children.

"Discrimination is a common and everyday experience for minority populations in America," Dr. Luisa N. Borrell, professor and chair in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy at City University of New York, said in a press release. "People can be exposed to it at the individual and society levels. This constant stress gets embodied into our biology or DNA to change our bodies' responses to diseases and medical treatments. Our findings support this biological embodiment for asthma and its control among African-American children and among low-SES [socio-economic status] Mexican-American children."

Researchers found that African-American children who reported discrimination had a 78 percent greater risk of having asthma than participants who did not report discrimination. They also found that discrimination was a predictor of poorly-controlled asthma in children.

The study showed that for Mexican-American children, discrimination and low SES were combined factors leading to an increase in asthma.

According to researchers, this study is the first to show a link between discrimination and asthma diagnosis in African-American and Latino children contributing to prior evidence that racial/ethnic discrimination can have negative health impacts on children.

"With overt events of discrimination, whether towards one's race, ethnicity, religion, gender and/or sexual orientation increasing, this study is now more relevant than ever," said Dr. Neeta Thakur, an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

The study was published in the journal CHEST.

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