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J Natl Med Assoc. 2006 Feb;98(2):239-47.

Race disparities in childhood asthma: does where you live matter?

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Department of Community Health, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.



This study investigates whether racial/ethnic disparities in childhood asthma prevalence can be explained by differences in family and neighborhood socioeconomic position (SEP).


Data were from the 2001 Rhode Island Health Interview Survey (RI HIS), a statewide representative sample of 2,600 Rhode Island households, and the 2000 U.S. Census. A series of weighted multivariate models were fitted using generalized estimating equations (GEE) for the logistic case to analyze the independent and joint effects of race/ethnicity and SEP on doctor-diagnosed asthma among 1,769 white, black and Hispanic children <18 years old.


Compared with white children, black children were at increased odds for asthma and this effect persisted when measures of family and neighborhood SEP were included in multivariate models (AOR: 2.49; 95% Cl: 1.30-4.77). Black children living in poverty neighborhoods had substantially higher odds of asthma than Hispanic and white children in poverty areas and children in moderate- and high-income neighborhoods (AOR: 3.20: 95% Cl: 1.62-6.29).


The high prevalence of asthma among black children in poor neighborhoods is consistent with previous research on higher-than-average prevalence of childhood asthma in poor urban minority communities. Changing neighborhood social structures that contribute to racial disparities in asthma prevalence remains a challenge.

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