To identify the neighborhood socioeconomic and housing factors at the census-block level and the sociodemographic factors at the individual level that are associated with the risk of asthma.
Cross-sectional study of children aged between 5 and 18 years seen in a network of urban primary care clinics.
A network of urban primary care clinics (Indiana University Medical Group) in Marion County, Indiana, in the calendar year 2000.
A total of 2544 subjects with 1541 black children (947 girls, 594 boys) and 1003 white children (568 girls, 435 boys).
Main Outcome Measure
Whether a subject ever had asthma.
The prevalence rate of ever having asthma was 21% with the lowest (14.6%) in white girls and the highest (27.4%) in black boys. None of the census-block characteristics were significant in predicting ever having asthma. The significant predictors for childhood asthma were age, race, sex, and body mass index. Boys who were overweight had 3.1 times higher odds and girls who were overweight had 1.8 times higher odds of having asthma than girls who were normal weight. There was a stronger association between asthma and being overweight in female subjects than in male subjects. Black children had 1.3-fold higher odds of ever having asthma than white children. The highest likelihood of having asthma is among boys who were young, black, and overweight and the lowest among girls who were older, white, and normal weight.
Increased efforts at prevention, screening, and treatment may need to be directed at certain subpopulations such as children living in socially and physically at-risk families and neighborhoods.