The results of a study, recently reported in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, indicate that asthma death rates have continued to fall in the United States since 1999. Study author R. Michael Sly, MD, based his findings on data from the National Center for Health Statistics. He evaluated trends in asthma death rates in the United States by patient age, sex, and race. The data showed that asthma mortality increased from 0.8 deaths per 100,000 individuals in the general population in 1978 to 2.0 in 1989. This rate stayed stable for the next 10 years until a rate of 1.7 was noted in 1999. Asthma mortality fell further to 1.6 in 2000.
The change to a new diagnostic classification for asthma, implemented in 1999, only partially accounted for the drop in death rates, noted Dr. Sly. Although both men and women have seen a decline in asthma mortality, rates still are higher for women, compared with men. Asthma mortality for children under age 5 has remained low and relatively steady over the past few decades. In older children, the death rate has risen since the late 1970s and has stabilized in recent years.