6.7 Percent Of Children/Adolescents In the US Have Asthma

Overall prevalence of current asthma in children and adolescents in the United States is 6.7 percent.

For children and adolescents with a parental history of asthma or hay fever, the odds ratio for current asthma is 4.00, findings from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) indicate. NHANES III was conducted between 1988 and 1994.

NHANES III results for overall asthma prevalence are considerably higher than results from NHANES II (1976 to 1980). In NHANES II, overall prevalence for asthma in US children and adolescents was 3.6 percent.

For children and adolescents with body mass index greater than or equal to the 85th percentile, the odds ratio for current asthma from NHANES III is 1.94. For African-American children, the odds ratio is 1.64.

"Findings from this analysis show a strong independent association between obesity and current asthma in children and adolescents," say researchers from the University of California at San Francisco and Stanford University in Palo Alto.

They say the mechanism underlying the relationship between obesity and asthma is unclear. "It is possible that asthma may predispose young children to inactivity and this in turn may promote weight gain," investigators suggest. "Another possible mechanism examined in previous studies is that obesity may contribute to increased bronchial hyperactivity."

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