Study Shows African-American Children At Higher Risk For Asthma

Bernie Tafoya
May 01, 2018 - 1:26 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- On this World Asthma Day, a new study indicates that, despite efforts, a wide racial disparity still exists racially among Chicago children with asthma.  

The study by the Respiratory Health Association (RHA) finds that the average annual number of emergency room visits by city children with asthma went down between 2009 and 2015 from 9,702 to 8,848. 

African-American children still made up more than 63 percent of the emergency room visits in 2015. 

Joel Africk, president and CEO of the RHA said those visits are costly too.

"In 2015 alone, emergency room charges for childhood asthma related ED visits exceeded $18 million in Chicago," Africk said.

He said black children are five times as likely to wind up in the ER as their white counterparts.

Dr. Ruchi Gupta of Lurie Children’s Hospital said in more than half the cases, children with asthma wind up in the ER because they don’t know how to properly use their inhalers. She said, though, there are other factors at play, too.

Chicago Public Health Cmsr. Dr. Julie Morita said environment also plays a role. 

"There’s approaches that are used nationwide to evaluate homes, to look for things like rodents or pests, in addition to mold in the home because those can all contribute to development and exacerbation of asthma," Dr. Morita said.

Dr. Morita said Chicago’s young people deserve better.

The health experts said more studying is needed to figure out ways to reduce the number of African-American children with asthma who end up in the hospital.