Issues Tank: Disparity Among Neighborhoods Seen in Asthma Report
New York City's asthma rate is higher than the national average, but not everyone is gasping for air.
According to a report published Wednesday by the Department of Health, one in eight children in New York City has been diagnosed with asthma. The report comes from a 2009 community survey that found racial and socioeconomic disparities among City neighborhoods when it comes to diagnoses.
Only five percent of white children developed the disease, according to the report, compared to 18 percent of Hispanic children and 17 percent of black children. Alongside that, "children living in the poorest households were almost twice as likely to ever be diagnosed with asthma as those living in the wealthiest households," the report said.
Co-director of the Asthma Center at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, Dr. Simon Spivack says both genetics and living conditions play a role in the disparity.
"We have to blur the boundary between straight medical care in the doctor's office and, essentially, have more outreach-- which boils down to phone calls and preemptive visits," Spivack said.
Tom Matte, assistant commissioner at the Department of Health, remains optimistic that improving living conditions in low-income communities would help children with asthma.
"[Improving the statistics] is challenging, but we think by focusing on the things we know that make a difference, we're beginning to have some progress," Matte said. "But we know we're not where we want to be."
To view the Department of Health's full report: sites/default/files/VS Child Asthma WEB FINAL.PDF