Childhood Asthma on the Decline, But Not Among Poor and Minorities

New data on asthma rates is both encouraging and troubling.
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Childhood asthma is on the decline, but not among poor or minority children.

A new study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, and published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at rates of the condition from 2001 and 2013 and found until 2009, asthma was on the rise, a trend that had remained unchanged since 1982. In fact, in the 80s and 90s, the number of kids with the disorder actually doubled. At its height, the overall rate of kids younger than 17 who suffered from the troubling diagnosis was 9.7 percent.

The good news is, after remaining at that number for years, the rate saw a decrease to 8.3 percent in 2013. Unfortunately, that's just the overall number. Among poor children, the asthma rate is actually on the rise. And researchers teased out racial disparities in the data, namely that 14 percent of black kids have the condition, while just 8 percent of white kids do.

Learn how to overcome the symptoms of asthma. Video courtesy of Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.

Researchers stopped short of pinpointing an exact reason for the conflicting trends, but speculate living in poverty may expose kids to environment toxins that can lead to asthma. There may also be a genetic component.

Meanwhile, Lara Akinbami at the National Center for Health Statistics said she wasn't sure "whether 2013 represents just one of the fluctuations in that leveling or whether that's going to show us the beginning of a decreasing trend."

Let's hope it's the latter; roughly one in nine children suffer from the disorder according to Elizabeth Matsui, from Johns Hopkins Children's Center. That's a scary number. Way too scary,if you ask me.

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.

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