Child Asthma Death Rates Drop, But Visits Double

Percentage of children with asthma doubled between 1980 and 1995

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. death rates for childhood asthma have declined in recent years, according a report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, physician visits for the condition doubled between 1990 and 2004.

The report, "State of Childhood Asthma, United States: 1980-2005," notes that almost 9 percent of children under 18 currently have asthma. The highest percentages of asthma are found among Puerto Rican and non-Hispanic black children at 19.2 percent and 12.7 percent, respectively.

From 1980 to 1995, the percentage of children with asthma doubled (3.6 percent to 7.5 percent). Since 2001, asthma rates have remained stable at a high level.

The decline in the death rate from asthma in the late 1990s was due in part to a change in the way CDC coded deaths. Since that time, however, the death rate has declined from 3.2 children per million in 1999 to 2.5 deaths per million in 2004. At the same time, there were 89 asthma-related doctor visits per 1,000 children in 2004, an increase from 40 visits per 1,000 in 1990.

State-specific data was available for 37 states and the highest rates were recorded in Massachusetts, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Maryland and Rhode Island, while Utah, California, Iowa, Tennessee and Washington recorded the lowest rates.

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