Asthma. Although asthma is the most common chronic childhood illness in the United States, little is known about its prevalence among American Indian and Alaska Native children.
The authors of a study published in the May/June 1999 issue of the journal Public Health Reports used the latest available data for American Indian and Alaska Native children ages 1-17 years old to estimate the prevalence of asthma in this group.
The data used for this study came from a 1987 national survey of households in which at least one person was eligible for services from the Indian Health Service.
The authors found that the percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native children with asthma symptoms, as reported by parents or other adult household members, was similar to the percentage among all US children, drawn from a comparable survey.
Lead author James W. Stout, M.D. M.PH., of the University of Washington's Childhood Asthma Study Team, points to the need for updated research. "We know that both the prevalence and severity of asthma are increasing in our country. We also know that high rates of asthma are strongly associated with being poor and that a large proportion of American Indian people live in poverty. Thus, we feel that the potential for asthma to represent a significant public health burden among Indian children is high and the issue deserves further attention."