Hispanic asthma rates highest among Puerto Ricans

Studies of Hispanic children and adults show that Mexican-American ethnicity is associated with lower risks of asthma and wheezing, while the prevalence of active physician-diagnosed asthma is highest among Puerto Ricans.

These study results appear in the second issue for January 2006 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

Juan C. Celedn, M.D., Dr. P.H., of Channing Laboratory in Boston, Massachusetts, along with two associates, examined studies related to asthma and asthma rates in Hispanics in the United States, as well as in Hispanic America. In the article, the authors discuss the marked variation in the prevalence, state of disease and mortality associated with asthma among Hispanics.

Asthma is a condition in which the airways are narrowed as a result of hyperreactivity from certain stimuli that cause inflammation. The airway narrowing causes the person to exert more effort to move air in and out. However, drug treatment can open the airways and allow most asthmatics to lead relatively normal lives

Although data on U. S. Hispanics with asthma is limited, a study of 1,319 school children in East Harlem, New York, showed current wheezing was significantly more common in Puerto Ricans at 31 percent as compared with other ethnic groups (20.4 percent).

"According to the 2000 census, there were 35.2 million Hispanics in the United States, comprising approximately 12.5 percent of the population," said Dr. Celedn. "Between 1990 and 2000, the Hispanic population in the U.S. increased by 60.7 percent. Hispanics are the fastest growing minority in the United States, and, by 2050, their numbers are expected to triple, thus becoming 24.4 percent of the population."

Almost 60 percent of the Hispanics in the U.S. trace their roots to Mexico, with over 22 percent noting Puerto Rican, Central American, South American or Cuban ancestry. The balance, 18 percent,

Contact: Suzy Martin
American Thoracic Society

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