Race, asthma, and persistent wheeze in Philadelphia schoolchildren

Am J Public Health. 1996 Oct;86(10):1406-9. doi: 10.2105/ajph.86.10.1406.


Objectives: Many studies show asthma to be more common in Black than in White children. This study assessed how much of this difference remains after adjustment for other potentially race-associated predictors of asthma.

Methods: We assessed the predictors of active diagnosed asthma and persistent wheeze in 1416 Black and White Philadelphia children aged 9 to 11 years, as reported by parents.

Results: Black race remained a significant predictor of active diagnosed asthma (odds ratio [OR] = 2.3; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.3, 4.1) but not of persistent wheeze (OR = 1.0; 95% CI = 0.6, 1.8). The excess risk of asthma in Black children was not appreciably altered by adjustment for other demographic and environmental factors.

Conclusions: Black race is an important risk factor for active diagnosed asthma in these urban children, a relationship not explained by social factors. This finding and the lack of an association of race with persistent wheeze after adjustment for social factors suggest that race may be more important to the acquisition of an asthma diagnosis than to the prevalence of the symptoms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • African Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Asthma / ethnology*
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Child
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Philadelphia / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors