A recent research paper shows that asthma doesn’t necessarily thrive in poor and densely populated areas of inner cities. The findings revealed that people living in urban neighborhoods don’t have a higher risk of developing the disease than people living in the suburbs or rural areas.
The study was conducted by a team of scientists from Johns Hopkins University, and it was published this week in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
More than half of century people believed that asthma was linked to highly populated urban areas and poverty. However, scientists failed to conduct a proper study to see if this belief had any scientific grounds, but they stated several times that in inner cities asthma reached the proportion of an epidemic.
The new study analyzed census data about more than 23,000 children aged 6 to 17. Data revealed that children living in inner-cities had the same risk of developing asthma as those living in suburban or rural areas.
Researchers explained that poor people living in city centers are more likely to develop the disease because they are more exposed to indoor allergens carried by rats and cockroaches. Additionally, poor people eat less healthy, are more stressed and deprived from breast feeding in early years leading to increased rates of developing asthma.
Also, city life make things even worse – people may be affected by asthma attacks because of the high density of pollutants such as smoke from cigarettes or exhaust fumes. All in all, being poor and living in a big city was the perfect combination to get asthma.
However, researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that asthma affected nearly 13 percent of children living in inner-cities, and nearly 11 percent of kids living in other areas. But, when factors such as race, gender, age, and location were taken into account, the differences between urban and non-urban asthma rates lost any significance.
“There were no differences in asthma prevalence in suburban, small-town, and rural neighborhoods compared with urban neighborhoods,”
the study authors wrote in their paper.
The study also revealed a huge difference between inner-city asthma rates cross-country. For instance, in the West only 8 percent of children living in inner-city areas had asthma, while in the Northeast that rate jumped to 17.3 percent.
In fact, the location wasn’t as important as race, ethnicity, and income. The research showed that nearly 20 percent of Puerto Rican children, and 17 percent of Afro-American kids were affected by asthma, while only 8.1 percent of Asian American children, and 9.6 percent of white children had the disease.
Also, the researchers found that African American or Puerto Rican kids living in poor families had the highest risk of having an asthma attack, regardless whether they lived in inner cities, or in the suburbs or rural regions, the study concluded.
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