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For Immediate Release:
May 04, 2004
For more information contact:
Maria Iacobo
213/240-8144 or 213/990-7107/pager

Survey Examines Effects of Asthma on Los Angeles County Children May 4 Marks First Asthma Awareness Day in California

LOS ANGELES – African American children in Los Angeles County are more likely to have asthma (16%) compared to whites (9%), Asians/Pacific Islanders (9%), or Latinos (6%), according to a recent survey sponsored by the County's Department of Health Services (DHS). Overall, 8% of Los Angeles County children, aged 0-17, have asthma; this figure is comparable to national statistics.

"Asthma is the most common chronic condition in childhood and a leading cause of childhood hospitalizations," said Jonathan E. Fielding, M.D., M.P.H., Director of Public Health and County Health Officer. "Children with asthma suffer a significant burden. Asthma can limit their normal activities and lead to serious complications including pneumonia, impaired growth and development, and even death."

The survey found that among children with asthma, 41% of children (ages 0-5) and 47% of school-aged children (ages 6- 17) limited their physical activity due to their asthma. African Americans, Latinos, and Asian/Pacific Islanders with asthma were more likely to report limiting their child’s physical activity (39%, 56%, and 60% respectively) compared to whites (23%).

Among children with asthma, two in five 0 to 5-year-olds and one-quarter of 6 to 17-year-olds visited an emergency room or urgent care facility in the past year as a result of asthma. ER and urgent care visits were more often reported among African American (33%) and Latino (32%) children compared to whites (18%). The numbers were too small to assess the percentage for Asians/Pacific Islanders.

Many children with poor access to health are likely to have asthma that is undiagnosed. The prevalence of asthma among children without health insurance or without a regular source of health care was about half that of those with health insurance and a regular provider.

“These findings suggest that there may be many children with asthma that remains undiagnosed because they have less access to health care," said Paul Simon, M.D., M.P.H. Chief of Health Assessment and Epidemiology, the office that developed the survey. "Furthermore, many children with asthma are being seen in urgent or emergency care settings, which points to the critically important role of both parents and clinicians to assure that asthma is being properly managed at home and in health care.”

Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control and community and family health and comprises more than 3,800 employees with an annual budget exceeding $600 million.