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22-03-2011 | Respiratory | Article

Lung function deficits greater in Hispanic than White children


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MedWire News: Hispanic children with asthma, particularly girls, show greater deficits in lung function than their White counterparts, research shows.

"The impact of asthma on chronic lung function deficits is well known," observe Kiros Berhane (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA) and colleagues in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

"However, although both pulmonary function and asthma prevalence vary by race and ethnicity, there has been little study of ethnic differences in the impact of asthma on lung function," they add.

The team analyzed the impact of asthma on lung function in a cohort of 3245 Hispanic and non-Hispanic White school children, aged 10-18 years, participating in the Southern California Children's Health Study. Of these, 20.4% of Hispanic children and 24.3% of White children had asthma.

They found that in both ethnic groups combined, there were small but significant deficits in small airway flows and in peak expiratory flow (PEF) among children with asthma compared with those who did not have the condition.

However, the pattern of gender-specific asthma effects differed by ethnicity.

Hispanic girls with asthma had greater deficits in flows than non-Hispanic asthmatic girls, with the greatest difference evident for maximal midexpiratory flow (MMEF), at -5.13% versus -0.58%, respectively, compared with MMF in non-asthmatic children.

Hispanic girls with asthma also had significantly greater deficits than non-Hispanic asthmatic girls regarding forced expiratory flow (FEF75), at -4.89% versus -0.57%, and PEF, at -4.33% versus -0.62%, compared with non-asthmatic children.

The ethnic differences in lung function in girls with asthma was limited to those diagnosed after the age of 4 years, the researchers note.

In boys, they also found that Hispanic children with asthma had greater deficits in flow than White children, but the differences were not significant.

The findings remained true after accounting for ethnic differences in parental education, exposure to pets and smoking, and health insurance coverage.

Berhane and team conclude: "Further investigation is warranted to determine the implications of these ethnic differences for lung function and associated cardiorespiratory disease, including mortality, in later adult life, and to identify potentially preventable causes. Ethnic differences in dietary and genetic characteristics, for example, might explain the observed differences."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Mark Cowen

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