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    Poor housing is associated with asthma morbidity

    A new study found that the well-documented racial/ethnic disparities in asthma diagnosis and morbidity are diminished after accounting for material hardship. Compared with their peers, children who experience such hardship—especially by living in a poorly maintained home—are more likely to have an asthma diagnosis and its associated complications, according to data from the 2011 American Housing Survey (AHS) and follow-up surveys.

    The 33,201 households from the AHS that investigators surveyed included children aged from 6 to 17 years. The study sample was primarily non-Hispanic white and also included non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics. Investigators inquired about childhood asthma diagnoses and emergency department (ED) visits for asthma and evaluated material-hardship variables such as poor housing quality, house crowding, lack of household amenities, home ownership, and availability of a vehicle.

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    Non-Hispanic black heads of household were more likely to have a child with an asthma diagnosis than non-Hispanic white heads of household and to be more likely to visit the ED. However, after adjusting for material hardship and home ownership, the race-asthma association was decreased, but not eliminated. In addition, poor housing quality was independently associated with asthma diagnosis (Hughes HK, et al. Acad Pediatr. 2017;17[2]:127-134).

    Thoughts for Dr Burke

    So, in the racial/ethnic disparities in asthma, quality of housing matters. Beyond that, home ownership, perhaps as a measure of wealth versus income, also matters. It is worth investigating resources in your community for asthma home visits targeting elimination of triggers and improvement in the overall housing quality.

    Marian Freedman
    Marian Freedman is a freelance writer.

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