Rationale: Puerto Ricans have the highest prevalence of asthma among all ethnic groups in the United States. There have been no studies that directly compare the burden of asthma between Puerto Ricans living in Puerto Rico and those living in the mainland United States.
Objective: To examine the relation between birthplace, area of residence, and asthma in Puerto Rican children.
Methods: Multistage population-based probability sample of children in the San Juan and Caguas metropolitan areas in Puerto Rico and in the Bronx, NY. Information was collected in a household survey of 2,491 children and their primary caretakers.
Results: The overall prevalence of asthma among Puerto Rican children in this study was very high (38.6%). Although children from Puerto Rico had higher socioeconomic status and lower rates of premature birth and prenatal smoke exposure, the prevalence of lifetime asthma was higher in Puerto Rican children living in Puerto Rico than in Puerto Rican children living in the South Bronx (41.3% vs 35.3%, p = 0.01). In multivariable analysis, residence in Puerto Rico was associated with increased odds of lifetime asthma (odds ratio [OR], 1.27; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03 to 1.57) and lifetime hospitalization for asthma (OR, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.04-2.07).
Conclusions: Puerto Rican children in Puerto Rico had a higher risk of asthma than Puerto Rican children in the South Bronx, highlighting the need for further examination of the roles of migration, acculturation, and environmental and psychosocial factors on the development of asthma in this high-risk population.