Asthma in the African-American Community

Published Online: Monday, July 1, 2002

Asthma is more common among African Americans than Caucasians, according to Dr Christine L. M. Joseph of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, MI.Yet so, too, is low birth weight. Dr Joseph and her team began to look for a correlation.

As reported in the May 2002 issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, Dr Joseph?s team found that 16.6% of African Americans had a low birth weight, compared with 5.3% among whites. The corresponding asthma rate was 12.5% among African Americans and 3.9% among whites. The team concluded that 31% of the cases of asthma in the study could be attributed to low birth weight.

Is there a true correlation? ?The medical community does not yet have the answer to this question,? said Dr Joseph. While insisting that more research needs to be done, Dr Joseph suggested, however, that low-birth-weight babies may be more susceptible to asthma due to the small size of their lungs. Lung size may also be influenced by the baby?s mother?s nutrition during pregnancy.

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