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How Many US Kids Have Asthma? Numbers Are Climbing

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Asthma rates in the United States are on the rise, and no one really knows for sure why that may be (though there's some speculation over a number of possible suspects). But as more and more people deal with the condition, it's important that they have the education necessary to properly take care of it to ensure their safety. It's often a lifelong condition, meaning that children are among those confronting this issue at a higher rate than they did previously. So, how many kids in the United States have asthma?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in 14 people had in the country had asthma in 2001, a number that climbed to one in 12 by 2009. The overall rise encompassed Americans of all ages, but, with 10 percent affected in 2009, kids were more likely to have it than adults. That was true even though many more adults died from the condition than kids did in 2007: Asthma killed 3,262 adults that year, compared with 185 children.

Still, even one death of a person of any age is too many. That's why the CDC stresses that people with asthma must be taught to properly used their inhalers and to avoid triggers, which include tobacco smoke, mold, outdoor air pollution, and colds and flu.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on YouTube

While we don't know why more people are now being diagnosed with asthma, there are some noteworthy trends associated with childhood instances that may shed some light on what's going on. In two recently published studies out of Rice University, for example, researchers found that children living in poverty and in economically and socially disadvantaged neighborhoods in Houston were more likely than their peers to develop asthma. In fact, as the Houston Chronicle reported, black children in city regions were three times more likely than their white counterparts to have the condition — while, nationally, 13 percent of black children and 7 percent of white children were reported to have it. The researchers also found that Houston kids on public insurance were 21 percent more likely to have asthma than those on private plans.

Obesity could also play a role. A 2017 study from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare concluded that children and teens who were considered obese or overweight were 35 percent more likely than others to have asthma. Australia's ABC News reported that this could be the case because the inflammation in the body associated with obesity is also a risk factor for asthma. It also helps to elucidate why more boys than girls have asthma as well, since, statistically, more boys are obese.  

Asthma isn't preventable, so people who have it should concentrate on developing a plan for living with it and preventing attacks, according to the Mayo Clinic. The faster and more effectively affected kids learn to do this, the better.