Objective: To obtain historical estimates of US asthma incidence from 17 years of health survey data.
Methods: The 1980 through 1996 National Health Interview Survey contained a question asking about the time of asthma onset in persons with asthma. Annual past year incidence estimates were calculated from self-reports of asthma status.
Results: Incidence increased from 2.5 per 1,000 (SE 0.37) in 1980 to 6.0 per 1,000 (SE 0.75) in 1996. Incidence increased faster in children than in adults and increased in females but not in males during this time.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that increasing asthma incidence contributed to the increasing prevalence during this time.