ChildStats.gov—Forum on Child and Family Statistics
faces of children
Home  |  About the Forum  |  Publications  |  Help
Search

America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2017

Asthma

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. 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.64, 65, 68, 154, 155, 156

Indicator HEALTH8: Percentage of children ages 0–17 with asthma, 1997–2015
Indicator HEALTH8: Percentage of children ages 0–17 with asthma, 1997–2015

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.

  • Between 1997 and 2015, there was an overall increasing trend in the prevalence of children ever diagnosed with asthma. Estimates of the prevalence of children who currently have asthma increased from 2001 to 2010, then declined through 2015. The percentage of children with an asthma attack in the past 12 months was stable from 1997 to 2011, then declined through 2015.157
  • In 2015, 13 percent of children ages 0–17 had been diagnosed with asthma at some time in their lives.
  • About 8 percent of children were reported to currently have asthma in 2015. These include children with active asthma symptoms and those whose asthma is well controlled.
  • In 2015, approximately 4 percent of all children had one or more asthma attacks in the previous 12 months. These children have ongoing asthma symptoms that could put them at risk for poorer health outcomes, including hospitalizations and death. About half of children who currently have asthma have ongoing asthma symptoms.
  • In 2015, about 13 percent of Black, non-Hispanic children were reported to currently have asthma, compared with 7 percent of White, non-Hispanic children, 8 percent of Hispanic children, and 5 percent of Asian, non-Hispanic children. Disparities exist within the Hispanic population, including higher prevalence of current asthma among Puerto Rican children (14 percent) than children of Mexican origin (7 percent).

table icon HEALTH8A HTML Table | HEALTH8B HTML Table

64 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2013). Integrated science assessment of ozone and related photochemical oxidants (Final Report) (EPA/600/R-10/076F). Washington, DC: Author, National Center for Environmental Assessment. Retrieved from https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/isa/recordisplay.cfm?deid=247492

65 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2009). Integrated science assessment for particulate matter (Final Report) (EPA/600/R-08/139F). Washington, DC: Author, National Center for Environmental Assessment. Retrieved from https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/CFM/recordisplay.cfm?deid=216546

68 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.

154 National Academy of Sciences. (2000). Clearing the air: Asthma and indoor air exposures. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Retrieved from http://books.nap.edu/catalog/9610.html

155 Gern, J. E. (2004). Viral respiratory infection and the link to asthma. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, 23 (1 Suppl.), S78–86.

156 Lemanske, R. F., Jr., and Busse, W. W. (2003). Asthma. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 111 (2 Suppl.), S502–519.

157 Increases or decreases in the estimates during the time period shown are assessed by the weighted least squares regression method in the National Cancer Institute's Joinpoint software. For more information on Joinpoint, see http://surveillance.cancer.gov/joinpoint