Racial and ethnic disparities in diagnosed and possible undiagnosed asthma among public-school children in Chicago

Am J Public Health. 2006 Sep;96(9):1599-603. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.071514. Epub 2006 Feb 28.


Objectives: We examined racial and ethnic disparities in the total potential burden of asthma in low-income, racially/ethnically heterogeneous Chicago schools.

Methods: We used the Brief Pediatric Asthma Screen Plus (BPAS+) and the Spanish BPAS+, validated, caregiver-completed respiratory questionnaires, to identify asthma and possible asthma among students in 14 racially/ethnically diverse public elementary schools.

Results: Among 11490 children, we demonstrated a high lifetime prevalence (12.2%) as well as racial and ethnic disparities in diagnosed asthma, but no disparities in prevalences of possible undiagnosed asthma. Possible asthma cases boost the total potential burden of asthma to more than 1 in 3 non-Hispanic Black and Puerto Rican children.

Conclusions: There are significant racial and ethnic disparities in diagnosed asthma among inner-city schoolchildren in Chicago. However, possible undiagnosed asthma appears to have similar prevalences across racial/ethnic groups and contributes to a high total potential asthma burden in each group studied. A better understanding of underdiagnosis is needed to address gaps in asthma care and intervention for low-income communities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / ethnology*
  • Black or African American
  • Chicago / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Poverty
  • Prevalence
  • Public Sector
  • Puerto Rico / ethnology
  • Schools / statistics & numerical data