Percentage of Children With Asthma and Asthma Attacks Decline Between 2001 and 2016

pediatric asthma, inhaler
pediatric asthma, inhaler
While there is currently no cure for asthma, treatments are effective at providing symptom relief.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report based on data from the 2001-2016 National Health Interview Survey for children aged 0 to 17 years found that the percentage of children with asthma and the percentage who experienced an asthma attack during the preceding year declined between 2001 and 2016.

Hatice S. Zahran, MD, of the Division of Environmental Health Science and Practice, National Center for Environmental Health, CDC, and colleagues reported that 1 in 12 children had asthma in 2016. Asthma was more prevalent among boys (9.2%) than girls (7.4%), among children 5 years or older (approximately 10%) than those younger than 5 (3.8%), among non-Hispanic black children (15.7%) and children of Puerto Rican heritage (12.9%) than among non-Hispanic white children (7.1%), and among children from low-income households (10.5%) than among those living at or above 250% of the Federal Poverty Level (approximately 7%). Asthma prevalence among children increased from 8.7% in 2001 to 9.4% in 2010, and then decreased to 8.3% in 2016.

Children with asthma had fewer missed school days and hospitalizations in 2013 compared with 2003. In 2013 and 2016, nearly 54% of children with asthma had one or more asthma attacks; 4.7% of those were hospitalized and 16.7% had an emergency department or urgent care visit because of an asthma attack. Overall, 49.0% of school-age children with asthma missed one or more school days. Between 2001 and 2016, the percentage of children with asthma who experienced an asthma attack decreased significantly, from 61.7% to 53.7%.

However, in the 3 months preceding the survey, approximately 55% of children with asthma were taking asthma control prescription drugs, and among those children only 54.5% were regularly adherent as prescribed, which was significantly lower than during 2003.

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The authors concluded that the health of children with asthma can be further improved by promoting asthma control strategies, including asthma trigger reduction, appropriate guidelines-based medical management, and asthma education for children, parents, and others involved in asthma care.


Zahran HS, Bailey CM, Damon SA, Garbe PL, Breysse PN. Vital signs: asthma in children—United States, 2001-2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018;67(5):149-155.