Discrimination contributes to pediatric asthma rates in African American and Latino youth

April 20, 2017, Elsevier

Asthma is a debilitating, yet common childhood ailment. It is estimated that one in ten children in the United States suffer from asthma, but the condition disproportionately affects African American and Latino children. In a new study published in CHEST, investigators found that African American children who reported experiencing discrimination had almost twice the probability of having asthma than their peers who did not experience/report discrimination. Among African American children with asthma, discrimination was also associated with a greater probability of having poorly controlled asthma. For Mexican American children, discrimination and socioeconomic status (SES) act together with discrimination having an effect on asthma only among low-SES children.

While the relationship between discrimination and physical health in adults is well understood, less is known about the role it plays in . This study is the first to show an association between discrimination and asthma diagnosis in African American and in Latino children, contributing to existing evidence implicating racial/ethnic discrimination as a predictor of negative health outcomes in children. For asthma specifically, the findings are consistent with results correlating discriminatory experience and subsequent asthma diagnosis in African American adult women.

"Discrimination is a common and everyday experience for minority populations in America. People can be exposed to it at the individual and society levels. This constant stress gets embodied into our biology or DNA to change our bodies' responses to diseases and medical treatments. Our findings support this biological embodiment for asthma and its control among African American children and among low-SES Mexican American children," explained lead and senior investigator Luisa N. Borrell, DDS, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, City University of New York.

Using data from the Genes-Environment and Admixture in Latino Americans study (GALA II) and the Study of African Americans, Asthma, Genes, and Environments (SAGE II), researchers found that African American children who reported discrimination had 78 percent greater odds of having asthma than participants who did not report discrimination. In addition, reported discrimination was a good predictor of a child's asthma being poorly controlled.

SES and discrimination are complex issues, with many different aspects to consider. The results of this study suggest that they work together to influence asthma rates for Latino youth, but that for African American youth, discrimination works independently of SES; however, the authors note that many unmeasured factors surrounding both discrimination and SES may help explain the association with asthma.

"With overt events of discrimination, whether towards one's race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and/or sexual orientation increasing, this study is now more relevant than ever," concluded first author Neeta Thakur, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco. "Discrimination is a real and everyday experience for many Americans, especially for those from minority communities. In this study, we demonstrate how this seemingly unrelated stressor is directly related to asthma and its associated outcomes in African Americans. This is significant as asthma is an incredibly common and costly disease of childhood and is on the rise in African American communities."

"Given the current political climate, our findings are very significant, especially for minority children," stated Dr. Borrell. "Children are being exposed directly or indirectly to different sources of psychosocial stress—, bullying, and fear—while our focus was , this stress may play a role in other diseases, behaviors, and learning opportunities."

Explore further: Impostor feelings fuel negative mental health outcomes for minority students, study

More information: Neeta Thakur et al, Perceived Discrimination Associated With Asthma and Related Outcomes in Minority Youth, Chest (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.chest.2016.11.027

Related Stories

Impostor feelings fuel negative mental health outcomes for minority students, study

April 5, 2017
While perceived discrimination on college campuses compromises the self-esteem, well-being and mental health of ethnic minority students, new psychology research from The University of Texas at Austin suggests the impostor ...

Racial gap in children's asthma linked to social inequality in Houston neighborhoods

March 1, 2017
African-American and poor children in the United States suffer disproportionately from asthma. But according to a new study from sociologists at Rice University, racial and socio-economic gaps in the proportion of children ...

AAAAI: asthma more likely to prove fatal in black children

March 7, 2017
(HealthDay)—Black American children are six times more likely to die from asthma than their white or Hispanic peers, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, ...

Missed sleep may contribute to asthma morbidity

July 17, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Missed sleep may contribute to asthma morbidity in urban children, according to a study published in the July issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Experiences of racism linked to adult-onset asthma in African-American women

August 15, 2013
According to a new study from the Slone Epidemiology Center (SEC) at Boston University, African-American women who reported more frequent experiences of racism had a greater likelihood of adult-onset asthma compared to women ...

Research connects discrimination, thoughts of death among African-Americans

June 25, 2016
Racial discrimination, whether it's derogatory language or unequal treatment, impacts communities and individuals in different ways. For children, the effects are sometimes emotional scars, and as a University of Houston ...

Recommended for you

Fetal T cells are first responders to infection in adults

June 20, 2018
Cornell University researchers have discovered there is a division of labor among immune cells that fight invading pathogens in the body.

How a thieving transcription factor dominates the genome

June 20, 2018
One powerful DNA-binding protein, the transcription factor PU.1, steals away other transcription factors and recruits them for its own purposes, effectively dominating gene regulation in developing immune cells, according ...

Composition of complex sugars in breast milk may prevent future food allergies

June 12, 2018
The unique composition of a mother's breastmilk may help to reduce food sensitization in her infant, report researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine with colleagues in Canada.

Drug may quell deadly immune response when trauma spills the contents of our cells' powerhouses

June 11, 2018
When trauma spills the contents of our cell powerhouses, it can evoke a potentially deadly immune response much like a severe bacterial infection.

Immune system does not recover despite cured hepatitis C infection

June 11, 2018
Changes to the immune system remain many years after a hepatitis C infection heals, a new study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, and Hannover Medical School, Germany, shows. The findings, presented in Nature ...

Food allergies connected to children with autism spectrum disorder

June 8, 2018
A new study from the University of Iowa finds that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more than twice as likely to suffer from a food allergy than children who do not have ASD.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.