A longitudinal study of the prevalence of asthma in a community population of school-age children

J Pediatr. 2002 May;140(5):576-81. doi: 10.1067/mpd.2002.123764.


Objective: Using a unique county-wide resource that links all health care providers' medical records to assess current and "ever" prevalence of physician-diagnosed asthma. To describe the age and sex rates and temporal trends in new asthma diagnoses and associations with race and socio-economic status.

Study design: A longitudinal retrospective evaluation of a population-based cohort of school children using linked medical and school records.

Results: Overall, 17.6% of children in grades kindergarten through 12 had a physician diagnosis of asthma and 12.9% had an asthma-related visit within the past 2 years. An additional 19.7% had visits for reactive airway disease or recurrent wheezing or bronchospasm with no diagnosis of asthma. Children provided with free and reduced-cost lunches had lower cumulative and incident asthma rates from birth through their current school age. Race was not related to rates of physician-diagnosed asthma. There was a significant temporal increase in rates of new asthma diagnoses.

Conclusions: In this community, 1 in 3 children have had a physician-documented recurrent wheezing-type illness, and 1 in 6 were diagnosed with asthma. Diagnoses rates were directly related to socioeconomic status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Survival Analysis