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Environ Health. 2009 Dec 8;8:55. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-8-55.

Variability in childhood allergy and asthma across ethnicity, language, and residency duration in El Paso, Texas: a cross-sectional study.

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  • 1University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC, USA.



We evaluated the impact of migration to the USA-Mexico border city of El Paso, Texas (USA), parental language preference, and Hispanic ethnicity on childhood asthma to differentiate between its social and environmental determinants.


Allergy and asthma prevalence was surveyed among 9797 fourth and fifth grade children enrolled in the El Paso Independent School District. Parents completed a respiratory health questionnaire, in either English or Spanish, and a sub-sample of children received spirometry testing at their school. Here we report asthma and allergy outcomes across ethnicity and El Paso residency duration.


Asthma and allergy prevalence increased with longer duration of El Paso residency independent of ethnicity and preferred language. Compared with immigrants who arrived in El Paso after entering first grade (18%), lifelong El Paso residents (68%) had more prevalent allergy (OR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.32 - 2.24), prevalent asthma (OR, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.24 - 2.46), and current asthma (OR, 2.01; 95% CI, 1.37 - 2.95). Spirometric measurements (FEV1/FVC and FEF25-75) also declined with increasing duration of El Paso residency (0.16% and 0.35% annual reduction, respectively).


These findings suggest that a community-wide environmental exposure in El Paso, delayed pulmonary development, or increased health of immigrants may be associated with allergy and asthma development in children raised there.

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