Race and gender differences in respiratory illness prevalence and their relationship to environmental exposures in children 7 to 14 years of age

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1993 Jul;148(1):10-8. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/148.1.10.


Race and gender differences in respiratory illness prevalence rates were assessed in a cohort of 8,322 white children and 1,056 black children 7 to 14 yr of age from four U.S. cities. Boys had higher rates of wheeze, asthma, cough, phlegm, and bronchitis than girls. Black children had higher rates of persistent wheeze, shortness of breath with wheeze, asthma, chronic cough, and chronic phlegm than white children. We examined whether the racial disparity in respiratory illness prevalence could be accounted for by environmental exposures and socioeconomic factors. The proportion of families without a parent who had graduated from high school was higher for blacks than for whites, as was the proportion of single-parent households. Black children took up smoking less frequently; their mothers smoked fewer cigarettes. Personal and maternal smoking predicted higher rates of persistent wheeze, chronic cough, chronic phlegm, and chest illness. The relative odds for persistent wheeze were 1.34 (1.07, 1.69) for smoking children compared with nonsmoking children. The relative odds for persistent wheeze were 1.35 (1.13, 1.60) for children whose mother smoked > 30 cigarettes per day versus children with no maternal smoke exposure. Other predictors of respiratory illnesses included parental respiratory illness, parental education, only-child status, single-parent household, air conditioner use, and body mass index. Nevertheless, adjustment for socioeconomic factors, environmental exposures, and body habitus did not significantly reduce the excess respiratory illness prevalence observed among black children. The adjusted relative odds were 1.47 (1.25, 1.74) for persistent wheeze and 1.57 (1.17, 2.10) for asthma for black children versus white children.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Black or African American* / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kansas / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Missouri / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Ohio / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / etiology
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Tennessee / epidemiology
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data
  • White People* / statistics & numerical data
  • Wisconsin / epidemiology