Asthma is a disease of the lungs that can cause wheezing, difficulty in breathing, and chest pain. It is one of the most common chronic diseases among children and is costly in both health and monetary terms. Asthma varies greatly in severity. Some children who have been diagnosed with asthma may not experience any serious respiratory effects. Other children may have mild symptoms or may respond well to management of their asthma, typically through the use of medication. Some children with asthma may, however, suffer serious attacks that greatly limit their activities, result in visits to emergency rooms or hospitals, or, in rare cases, cause death. Environmental factors such as air pollution and secondhand tobacco smoke, along with infections, exercise, and allergens, can trigger asthma attacks in children who have the disease.54, 55, 58, 146, 147, 148
NOTE: Children are identified as ever diagnosed with asthma by asking parents, "Has a doctor or other health professional EVER told you that your child has asthma?" If the parent answers YES to this question, they are then asked (1) "Does your child still have asthma?" and (2) "During the past 12 months, has your child had an episode of asthma or an asthma attack?" The question "Does your child still have asthma?" was introduced in 2001 and identifies children who currently have asthma.
SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey.
54 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2006). Air quality criteria for ozone and related photochemical oxidants (EPA/600/ R-05/004aF). Research Triangle Park, NC: Author.
55 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2009). Integrated Science Assessment for Particulate Matter (Final Report) (EPA/600/R-08/139F). Washington, DC: U.S. EPA, National Center for Environmental Assessment. Retrieved from http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/CFM/recordisplay.cfm?deid=216546.
58 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2006). The health consequences of involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke: A report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.
147 Gern, J.E. (2004). Viral respiratory infection and the link to asthma. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, 23(1 Suppl.), S78–86.
148 Lemanske, R.F., Jr., and Busse, W.W. (2003). Asthma. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 111 (2 Suppl.), S502– 519.