Trends in asthma prevalence: the Bogalusa Heart Study

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1997 Mar;78(3):265-9. doi: 10.1016/S1081-1206(10)63179-1.


Background: Epidemiologic surveys from different parts of the developed world are showing increases in asthma prevalence; the causes are not known.

Objective: To describe trends in prevalence of childhood asthma measured across serial cross-sectional surveys of the school age population of Bogalusa, Louisiana.

Methods: The Bogalusa Heart Study is a long-term epidemiologic study of risk factors for cardiovascular disease in children in a stable, semirural, biracial community. Part of the examination includes a parent-completed health history questionnaire. The item, "Does your child have or has your child had in the past...asthma?" was included in the 1983-5, 1987-8, and 1992-4 surveys. Data analysis was restricted to subjects aged 5 to 17 years.

Results: Three thousand two hundred seventy-six subjects participated in 1983-5, 3256 in 1987-8, and 3128 in 1992-4. Reported asthma prevalence increased from 9.2% to 15.9% between 1983-5 and 1992-4. Maternal smoking was associated with asthma in all three surveys. Young age and African American ethnicity were associated with asthma only in the 1992-4 survey.

Conclusions: The prevalence of asthma among the school age population of Bogalusa, Louisiana increased by 73% between the 1983-5 and the 1992-4 surveys. Whether the increase in asthma prevalence represents an increase in disease presence or an increase in disease recognition cannot be determined from these data.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Louisiana / epidemiology
  • Prevalence