The prevalence of asthma in children of elementary school age in western New York

J Urban Health. 2000 Dec;77(4):745-61. doi: 10.1007/BF02344035.


To determine the prevalence of caregiver-reported asthma in children 4 to 13 years old in metropolitan western New York State, surveys were conducted during 1997-1999 in the Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Iroquois, and Gowanda school systems. Questionnaires (3,889) were sent to the homes of elementary school children in nine schools in western New York. The caregivers were asked to complete a 13-item questionnaire for the child. Of the questionnaires, 60.5% (2,353/3,889) were completed. Of all children, 18% had physician-diagnosed asthma. Of children diagnosed with asthma, 86% were taking medication. Symptoms were consistent with suspected undiagnosed asthma for 13% of the children. Buffalo had the highest rate of diagnosed asthma (20%) for the age group. Gowanda had a prevalence of 18%, Iroquois 16%, and Niagara Falls 15%. Variations were observed in asthma prevalence rates among different racial/ethnic groups. In general, boys had a significantly (P = .001) increased odds of being asthmatic compared with girls. Overall, African-Americans and Hispanic/Latino children had significantly (P = .012 and P = .005, respectively) higher asthma prevalence rates, two to five times those of their Caucasian peers. In Gowanda, the prevalence of diagnosed asthma among Native American children was 23%, compared to 15% among Caucasian children. Of diagnosed Native American children, 71% were female. In Gowanda, a significant association (P = .007) of asthma among children in split-grade classes was observed compared to nonsplit grades. Of Native American children in split grades, 60% were diagnosed asthmatics. These observations reveal a high prevalence of asthma in the age group of 4 to 13 year olds in western New York. Local variations in potential triggers of asthma need to be considered when advising asthmatics. The results suggest that some grades have a disproportionate amount of children with asthma. The implications of asthma for children's early education need to be examined further.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / ethnology
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Surveys
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / statistics & numerical data
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Schools
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Health