Association between socioeconomic status and the development of asthma: analyses of income trajectories

Am J Public Health. 2010 Mar;100(3):540-6. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.150771. Epub 2009 Aug 20.


Objectives: Using data on 2868 children born in the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study, we examined the association between changes in family socioeconomic status and childhood asthma.

Methods: We determined the likelihood (odds ratio) of a child having asthma at ages 6 and 14 years for 4 family-income trajectories (chronic low, increasing, decreasing, and never low) over the child's lifetime. The trajectories were created from longitudinal latent-class models.

Results: We found a 2-fold increased risk of asthma at age 14 years among children who had lived in a low-income family since birth, especially for girls. Asthma was less likely to occur in children born to single parents; income rose over time in many of these families. Compared with children in chronic low-income families, children in households with increasing incomes had a 60% lower risk of asthma. Single-point measures of low income were not found to be associated with asthma.

Conclusions: Chronic exposure to a low-income environment from birth was associated with the development of persistent asthma. There was also a protective effect against asthma among those children whose families had moved out of poverty.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child Welfare / trends*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income / trends*
  • Life Change Events
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Poverty / trends*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Single Parent / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Class
  • Western Australia / epidemiology