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Ethnicity May Be Risk Factor for Asthmatic Kids' Allergies

Puerto Rican, black children two to three times more likely to have problems

MONDAY, Jan. 12, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Ethnicity may influence the risk of developing multiple allergies in children with asthma, says a U.S. study in the January issue of Chest.

The study of 791 children, aged 4 to 18, in Hartford, Conn., found Puerto Rican children with asthma were up to three times more likely to suffer indoor and outdoor allergies than white children with asthma. Black children with asthma were two to three times more likely to suffer outdoor allergies than white children with asthma.

"Asthma is a significant public health problem among Puerto Ricans, but the extent to which this population is affected by allergies is not completely understood," study author Dr. Juan Celedon, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, says in a prepared statement.

"Puerto Rican and African-American children are more likely to live in poor housing conditions and, consequently, have an increased risk of exposure to certain allergens. Not knowing a child is allergic to certain allergens may result in the child being continuously exposed to these allergens, which can ultimately make asthma management more difficult," Celedon says.

The high frequency of positive allergy test results in Puerto Rican and black children with asthma in this study suggests that children in these groups need to be tested for allergies more often. However, these children often have limited access to allergy skin tests.

"Parents of Puerto Rican or African-American children with asthma should be aware that allergy skin testing may be helpful in managing their child's asthma, particularly if the child has asthma that is difficult to treat," Celedon says.

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SOURCE: American College of Chest Physicians, news release, Jan. 12, 2004
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