Publication Date:

Aug 23, 2016

Key facts about asthma

• Around 8 percent of U.S. children were reported by their parents to have asthma in 2016, a decrease from a 2011 peak of 10 percent.
• Among children ages birth to 17, the prevalence of asthma was higher for males than for females, at 9 and 7 percent, respectively, in 2016.
• In 2016, asthma prevalence was much higher for American Indian/Alaska Native and non-Hispanic black children (16 and 15 percent, respectively) than for non-Hispanic white, Hispanic, or Asian children (7, 7, and 4 percent, respectively).
• In 2016, asthma was more common among children living in poverty and near poverty than among children with household incomes at least twice the federal poverty level (11 and 10 percent, respectively, compared to 7 percent).

Trends in asthma

After consistently increasing from the 1980s to the mid-1990s [1], the proportion of children who are reported by their parents to have asthma has remained steady over the past two decades, remaining between 8 and 10 percent. Around 8 percent of US children had asthma in 2016 (Appendix 1).

Differences by gender

Asthma is more common among boys than it is among girls. In 2016, 9 percent of males under age 18 had asthma, compared with 7 percent of females. While the overall trend has remained steady, the proportion of girls who had asthma decreased from 9 to 7 percent from 2011 to 2016, while the proportion of males who had asthma decreased from 10 to 9 percent over this same period (Appendix 1).

Differences by age

The prevalence of asthma among older children is higher than that among younger children. In 2016, 4 percent of children younger than 5 had asthma, compared with 10 percent of youth ages 5 to 11 and 11 percent of youth ages 12 to 17 (Appendix 1). Some of this difference may be due to under-diagnosis in younger children.

Differences by race and Hispanic origin [2]

In 2016, asthma prevalence was higher for American Indian/Alaska Native and non-Hispanic black children (16 and 15 percent, respectively) than for non-Hispanic white, Hispanic, or Asian children (7, 7, and 4 percent, respectively) (Appendix 1).

Differences by type of insurance coverage

Prevalence of asthma is higher among children with public health insurance than among children with other types of insurance or who are uninsured. In 2016, 10 percent of children with public health insurance had asthma, compared with 7 and 8 percent, respectively, of children with private insurance and children without health insurance, and 7 percent of children with other types of insurance (Appendix 1).

Differences by family income level

Asthma is more common among children living in families with incomes below the federal poverty level (FPL) than those living in families with higher incomes. In 2016, asthma was more common among children in poverty and near poverty than among children with household incomes of at least twice the FPL (11 and 10 percent, respectively, compared to 7 percent). (Appendix 1).

Other estimates

State and local estimates

State estimates for 2016 are available from the National Survey for Children’s Health through the Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health at http://www.childhealthdata.org/browse/survey/allstates?q=4585.

International estimates

2018 data on asthma prevalence worldwide is available from the Global Initiative for Asthma at http://globalasthmareport.org/Global%20Asthma%20Report%202018.pdf.

Data and appendices

Data source

• Data for 2013-2016: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. (2016-2018). Tables of summary health statistics for U.S. children: National Health Interview Survey 2013-2016 [Table C-1]. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/SHS/tables.htm.
• Data for 2005-2012: Bloom, B., Jones, L. I., & Freeman, G. (2006-2013). Summary health statistics for U.S. children: National Health Interview Survey, 2005-2012. Summary Health Statistics Reports. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/SHS_1997_2012.htm.
• Data for 2001-2004: Akinbami, L. J. (2006). The state of childhood asthma, United States, 1980-2005 (PHS 2007-1250). Hyattsville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ad/ad381.pdf.

Raw data source

National Health Interview Survey.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm

Appendices
Appendix 1. Age-Adjusted Percentage of Children, Birth to Age 17, Who Were Reported to Currently Have Asthma: 2001-2016

Background

Definition

Children ever diagnosed with asthma were identified by asking parents “Has a doctor or other health professional EVER told you that your child has asthma?” If the parent answered YES to this question, they were then asked (1) “Does your child still have asthma?”. Estimates are based on a response from a parent or other adult household member.

Citation

Child Trends. (2018). Asthma. Retrieved from https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/asthma.

Endnotes

[1] Due to changes in the questions asked in the National Health Interview Survey, estimates for years prior to 1998 are not strictly comparable with estimates for later years. However, data for 1980-1996 show a substantial increase in the prevalence of asthma among children. For additional information, see United States Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC. (2000). Measuring childhood asthma prevalence before and after the 1997 redesign of the National Health Interview Survey–United States. MMWR. 49(40), 908. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4940a2.htm

[2] Hispanic youth may be of any race.