CHICAGO — Asthma deaths have risen steadily in the United States, with the highest rate among black male children, researchers say.
Asthma afflicts an estimated 9.9 million people in the United States and "affects children, blacks and the poor disproportionately," researchers said in this week's Journal of the American Medical Assn.
The researchers noted that, from 1968 almost through the 1970s, the nation's asthma mortality rates declined. But they added: "Since the late 1970s, there has been an alarming reversal. It seems that rates are increasing faster among younger children, aged 5 to 14 years, than among adolescents and young adults, aged 15 to 34 years."
Researchers could not fully explain the increased death rates.
"The suspicions are that it's a combination of access to medical treatment" and a worse environment in urban areas, said lead researcher Dr. Kevin Weiss of George Washington University Medical Center.
A related journal article found that hospitalization rates for asthma among children up to age 17 also increased from 1979 to 1987.