University Study Links Racial Discrimination to Higher Asthma Rates Among Black Children

Roughly one in 10 children in the United States suffers from asthma. But higher asthma rates occur among African American children.

Previous studies have shown that asthma can be exacerbated by psychological stress. Now a new study led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco find that exposure to racial discrimination can impact the incidence of asthma among African American children. The study found that Black children who reported experiencing some type of racial discrimination were 78 percent more likely to have asthma than their peers who said they had not been discriminated against. The study also found that Black children who faced more blatant racial discrimination were even more likely to suffer from asthma.

Neeta Thakur, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and lead author of the study, said that “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.”

The study, “Perceived Discrimination Associated With Asthma and Related Outcomes in Minority Youth” was published in the April issue of the journal Chest. It may be accessed here.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Charles Littlewood says:

    “Now a new study led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco find that exposure to racial discrimination can impact the incidence of asthma among African American children.”

    What they claim is that “exposure to racial discrimination” is associated with asthma. It is extremely implausible that “exposure to racial discrimination” caused the asthma.

  2. Chris Wells says:

    Charles-
    Actually, the research has a point. Racial discrimination is a psychological/ emotional stressor. The body and mind are 2 entities in one. When stress happens, it stimulates the body, it activates stress hormones like cortisol in the blood. The immune system is also programmed to react or overreact.

    Over long periods, continued stress simulators, such exposure to racial discrimination and other stressful environment factors may begin to take its toll. With a weakend immune system, symptoms like asthma may manifest.

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