Objective: Asthma is the most common chronic condition in childhood and disproportionately impacts the poorer and ethnic minorities. The objectives of the study were to estimate the prevalence of asthma in Miami-Dade County (MDC) schoolchildren to aid case-finding and linkage to care.
Methods: We used the CDC Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) definition of possible asthma ("Ever told by a doctor or nurse that they had asthma and still had asthma") and analyzed data from four sources. These included the: (1)-MDC YRBSS 2009, (2)-MDC Health Connect Asthma Survey of school nurses (>2008), (3)-parents' survey in the five HealthConnect survey elementary schools with highest asthma prevalence, and (4)-focus group with parents of asthmatic children.
Results: (1)-MDC YRBSS data showed that 21.3% of high- and 21.4% of middle-school students had been diagnosed with possible asthma. Prevalence was the highest in African-American middle-school girls (26.9%). (2)-HealthConnect survey responders reported that 4.9% of the students in 131 MDC schools had possible asthma. Asthma prevalence was higher in elementary schools (median = 7.1%) and in low-income MDC zip codes. (3)-Of the parent survey responders, 24.9% indicated that their child had possible asthma, and 19.2% reported that their children had no usual source of care. (4)-Focus group participants reported frequent loss of Medicaid coverage for their children, landlords' indifference to the role of poorly maintained housing in asthma, and unmet needs regarding knowledge of health system navigation.
Conclusions: Asthma may be common in MDC schoolchildren, particularly in poor communities. Formidable structural factors limit the caregivers' abilities to manage childhood asthma.