The increasing rate of asthma in children has concerned the medical community for decades, but new research has found that this trend may have finally reached a plateau.
According to local Alabama news affiliate WSFA, U.S. health officials recently announced that the rates of childhood asthma have leveled off. However, poor children and those aged 10 to 17 are still suffering from asthma more than any other demographic.
As part of the research, doctors attempted to rationalize the rapid increase of children with asthma from 1982 to 2009, when the rate peaked at a whopping 10%.
Since 2009, childhood asthma rates have been decreasing by a slight margin each year, registering at just over 8% in 2013.
“Trends in childhood asthma have recently stopped increasing,” said Dr. Lara Akinbami, lead researcher of the study. “This is mainly due to the leveling off of prevalence among black children, who previously had large increases in the prevalence of asthma.”
Despite the positive findings of the study, it was determined that children in poor families and those aged 10 and 17 still suffer from increasing asthma rates.
“The not so good news is that asthma prevalence still seems to be increasing among children living in poverty,” Akinbami said.
“However, the increase in asthma rates among poor children may be due to their having greater or more persistent exposures to environmental factors that increase the risk for asthma,” she added.
At least one in 10 (and possibly as many as one in five) cases of asthma among children are linked to water damage, which causes mold to fester within the home. On the heels of devastating floods throughout the state of Alabama, the potential effects of mold are particularly pertinent.
According to AL.com, North Alabama saw nearly 10 inches of rain over the holidays, with property damage ranging from “affected” to “destroyed.”
Since many mold removal specialists were away for the holidays, some homeowners had to wait several days for their damage to be assessed. The Red Cross is still offering help to residents who need it.
In addition to mold, the study’s authors noted other environmental factors that can increase the risk of asthma for children. Dr. Jeffrey Biehler said that tobacco smoke, pet dander, dust mites, and smog can also play a role in the development of childhood asthma.
“We need to continue decreasing environmental exposures and help children at every level to reduce their chances of having asthma,” Biehler said.
To complete the study, researched used data of U.S. children from birth to the age of 17 from 2001 to 2013. The report was published in Pediatrics on Dec. 28.