Asthma Care Differs for Puerto Rican, Black Kids

Black children more likely to be hospitalized, U.S. study finds

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WEDNESDAY, Aug. 9, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Puerto Rican children receive different asthma care than black American children, and the reason for that disparity isn't clear, U.S. researchers report.

The study, by a team at Children's Hospital Boston, included an analysis of data from more than 6,500 children from inner-city Hartford, Conn., who were screened for asthma.

Reported in the August issue of Chest, the study found that Puerto Rican children with asthma make 30 percent more outpatient clinic visits than black children with the same disease severity. On the other hand, black children spend three times more days in the hospital for treatment of their asthma than Puerto Rican kids.

This may reflect cultural differences in perceptions of medical care and how it's used, said lead investigator Dr. Robyn Cohen, a pulmonary attending physician. Further study needs to done in order to determine the reasons for these differences.

"The Puerto Rican children had greater asthma severity, so it was interesting that the African-American children ended up spending more days in the hospital," Cohen said in a prepared statement.

"Is that because Puerto Rican children get more care early in their lives? Are we not reaching out enough to make all families feel comfortable coming to the clinic? Are we not teaching families to recognize symptoms? We don't know," she said.

The study also found that, overall, only 18 percent of the children with persistent asthma filled prescriptions for preventive medications, such as inhaled steroids. Puerto Rican families were more likely than black families to fill those prescriptions.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about childhood asthma.

SOURCE: Children's Hospital Boston, news release, Aug. 7, 2006

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