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Smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal burning power plant in in Colstrip, Mont.  (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)
Smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal burning power plant in in Colstrip, Mont. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)

Does urban living really cause asthma?

For those debating whether or not to raise kids in the city, a new study from Johns Hopkins might offer one more bullet point in the “pro” column.

The study challenges the long-standing belief that urbanites are more likely to suffer from asthma than people who live in suburban or rural areas.

Public health experts have long believed that city residents are more likely to develop asthma simply because of where they live — and the pollution, cockroaches and cigarette smoke that are often found there, too.

But researchers in the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center studied more than 23,000 U.S. children and found that their income, race and ethnic origin were much more influential than their mailing address.

The study found no differences in asthma risk between children living in cities and children living in rural or suburban communities. The findings were published online today in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

In inner-city areas, the prevalence of asthma was 12.9 percent, compared to 10.6 percent in other areas. However, “this difference was not significant after adjusting for race/ethnicity, region, age and sex,” according to the abstract.

“Our results highlight the changing face of pediatric asthma and suggest that living in an urban area is, by itself, not a risk factor for asthma,” lead investigator Dr. Corinne Keet said in a statement. “Instead, we see that poverty and being African American or Puerto Rican are the most potent predictors of asthma risk.”

So, although the prevalence of asthma is high in some inner-city areas, don’t let that fact — by itself — be a deterrent to moving downtown.

About Alissa Gulin

Alissa Gulin covers health care, education and general business at The Daily Record.

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