Asthma In Children
The incidence of asthma in children is growing by astounding proportions, with the most recent data revealing increases by as much as 75% over the last two decades. Asthma in children is a condition that is marked by the "inflammation of the airways in the throat and in the lungs, causing episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing particularly at night or in the early morning"
Broad studies on pediatric asthma reveal that urban areas in general present high-risk environments for several reasons, including:
- Lack of health insurance
- The failure of families with asthmatic children to pursue primary medical care
On the whole, the research indicates that children in urban areas are less likely to receive diagnosis and consistent medical care for pediatric asthma than children living in suburban and rural areas. This phenomenon is most frequently attributed to the fact that children with no insurance or who are covered under Medicaid are more likely to receive asthma care in hospital emergency rooms following an asthmatic event rather than receive regular therapeutic care from a primary physician.
The research also indicates that there are vulnerable subgroups in urban areas like the city of Philadelphia and its metropolitan region. While children in urban areas are immediately at greater risk than their suburban or rural counterparts, the research also demonstrates that children is subgroups like the African-American community are more vulnerable than white or Hispanic children to asthma and its triggers.
In terms of vulnerable subgroups in Philadelphia specifically, a recent survey revealed an identifiable lack of awareness concerning the triggers and warning signs of asthma in children, especially among Philadelphia's African-American community. This is a significant shortcoming considering the fact that more than 88,000 children in the city's metropolitan region are reported to have asthma, with as many as 12,500 of these children living in the city of Philadelphia. This finding points to lack of awareness as a serious barrier to effectively addressing pediatric asthma.
There are even more disconcerting statistics on the incidence of pediatric asthma among children in Philadelphia. For example, a 2000 survey conducted by the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation revealed that as many as one in every ten Philadelphia residents reported having asthma, with children in the city and surrounding metropolitan region the most affected, a finding that is in line with the research that has identified asthma as a leading childhood illness and one of the greatest contributors to school absenteeism. According to asthma researcher and professor of medicine Sal Mangione, the number of children in Philadelphia is much higher and closer to one in every four children, a claim that is supported by his participation in the screening of over 8,000 Philly children in 73 schools over three years.