Background: A review of studies on the association between childhood asthma and socioeconomic status (SES) in industrialized countries leads to the conclusion that there does not seem to be a clear association. A study from Aberdeen published 25 years ago, however, shows that among children with asthma, severe asthma is most prevalent in the lower social class, but this distinction between grades of asthma severity has been largely ignored since.
Methods: We screened all fourth grade schoolchildren of German nationality in Munich (4434 children, response rate 87 percent), distinguishing three severity grades in the same way as the study in Aberdeen.
Results: Prevalences of childhood asthma are reported by severity grade and SES. Prevalence of severe asthma was found to be significantly higher in the low as compared with the high socioeconomic group (Odds ratio = 2.37; 95 percent confidence interval: 1.28-4.41). This association could not be explained by established risk factors.
Conclusions: More attention should be paid to the association between severe asthma and SES, with measures such as targeting early diagnosis and treatment towards low socioeconomic groups.