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ADVANCE Perspective: Respiratory Views

New Study Highlights Rising U.S. Asthma Rates

Published March 5, 2010 11:42 AM by Vern Enge

Rising asthma rates in the U.S. were highlighted in a government study released earlier this month. That study estimated 7.85 percent of the population has asthma, according to the researchers at the Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch of the National Center for Environmental Health in Atlanta.

Asthma is a fairly common condition. "Our findings indicated wide differences in geographic prevalence among adults across the state level and an overall increased prevalence," explained study author Teresa Ann Morrison, MD.

Data from the current study showed Louisiana reported the lowest incidence of asthma at 5.04 percent of the population; Rhode Island was the highest at 10.68 percent.

New figures correspond with general clinical impressions that the prevalence is increasing, noted Jennifer Appleyard of St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit. But it is difficult to determine what is causing the rise. "I don't know if it's just one thing. It's probably a whole host of reasons," she said.

It is important to look at the possible causes,  because asthma is the ninth leading cause of hospitalization nationally, according to a JAMA report. There is little doubt the asthma rates are on a climb in most places. In 1998, the CDC reported state-specific prevalence rates ranging from 5.8 percent to 7.2 percent.  At that time, states with the lowest prevalence included West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Florida, all with 5.8 percent. Louisiana's rate was 6.1 percent, higher than what is currently shown in the 2010 data.

States with the highest percentages were California and Colorado at 7.1 percent and Nevada with 7.2 percent.

States with the greatest number of asthmatics included New York (1.2 million cases), Texas (1.1 million cases), and California 2.2 million cases). At that rate, it would appear there is plenty of work ahead to keep an army of therapists employed.

As a therapist, your guess as to differences in the regional prevalence in asthma are just about as good as anyone else's. If you have a theory, let's hear from you.



posted by Vern Enge


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