Background: Despite advances in therapy, morbidity and mortality rates as a result of pediatric asthma appear to have increased during the past decade. Epidemiologic evidence suggests that these increases disproportionately affected black children and the urban poor.
Methods: With use of data from the Medicaid Management Information System, we estimated the prevalence of asthma hospitalization in the 5- to 14-year-old Michigan Medicaid population for the period 1980 to 1986.
Results: Large increases were seen between 1980 and 1984, with leveling off or a slight decline thereafter. In 5- to 9-year-old children, the prevalence of asthma hospitalization increased from 2.3 per 1000 persons in 1980 to 4.5 per 1000 in 1984. Ten- to 14-year-old children demonstrated an increase of 2.2 per 1000 in 1980 to 3.2 per 1000 in 1984. Comparable trends occurred in all strata defined by age, race, residency, and gender. However, the largest increases were noted in urban black children, in which the rate more than doubled from 3.2 per 1000 in 1980 to 7.1 per 1000 in 1984. The adjusted relative risk for asthma hospitalization associated with being male was 1.6 (95% CI: 1.5, 1.7), with being black was 2.2 (95% CI: 2.1, 2.4), and with living in an urban county was 1.1 (95% CI: 1.04, 1.4).
Conclusions: Within this relatively homogeneous low socioeconomic population, black race remained a strong predictor for asthma hospitalization, whereas urban residence was only minimally associated with this outcome.