Far Higher Death Rate Among Black Children with Asthma in U.S.

in Asthma, News
Published: March 4, 2017

African-American children are six times more likely to die from asthma than white or Hispanic kids, say researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The data was presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s (AAAAI) 2017 meeting in Atlanta.

Dr. Anna Chen Arroyo - Far Higher Death Rate Among Black Kids with Asthma
Dr. Anna Chen Arroyo

Dr. Anna Chen Arroyo and her team looked at information collected on about 2,500 asthma deaths in kids from 2003 to 2014 to learn more about these children who are dying and, especially, where they were dying. Three location factors became a focus: whether the children were dying in an emergency room, while admitted to hospital, or outside of the hospital (usually at home).

“Deaths from asthma, especially among children, are sentinel events that can be avoided with timely intervention,” says Chen Arroyo. Possible factors that contribute to a higher number of deaths among black youth are “access to care, environmental factors that trigger asthma exacerbations, or inherently more severe disease in these children.”

Just over 50 percent of deaths for all demographics occurred in the emergency room or clinics. Around 30 percent of asthmatic children died while admitted to hospital, and 14 percent of deaths happened outside of hospital.

“The location of death reflects the amount of medical interventions that were provided prior to the child’s death, implying differential access to care and suggesting where we need to focus on future efforts and interventions,” Chen Arroyo said.

“When we looked at differences in the location of death across different racial and ethnic groups, we found that there was a higher proportion of black children dying in all three settings: in the hospital, in the emergency room and clinics, and out of the hospital,” she said.

Here’s how the numbers broke down:

Emergency room or clinic deaths
59 percent black
24 percent white
12 percent Hispanic

Out-of-hospital deaths
50 percent black
35 percent white
10 percent Hispanic

In-patient deaths
50 percent black
30 percent white
14 percent Hispanic

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