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Press Release

State of Childhood Asthma, United States: 1980-2005

For Immediate Release: December 12, 2006
Contact: CDC National Center for Health Statistics
Office of Communication
(301) 458-4800

A new report on childhood asthma released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that death rates for asthma among children under age 18 have declined since 1999, while doctor visits for the condition have more than doubled over the past decade.

In 2005, nearly 9 percent of children - 6.5 million children under age 18 - were reported to currently have asthma. The percentage of children who had asthma more than doubled between 1980 and 1995, from 3.6 percent to 7.5 percent. In 2001, CDC introduced a more precise measurement of asthma and the five years since then the trend has remained stable at historically high levels.

Other highlights:

  • After increasing steadily between 1980 and 1998, asthma death rates among children have for the most part declined since 1999. A change in the way causes of death are coded resulted in a sizable one-year decline between 1998 and 1999, but since then the asthma death rate for children has fallen from 3.2 deaths per 1 million children under age 18 in 1999 to 2.5 deaths per 1 million in 2004.
  • Asthma-related visits to physician offices have increased sharply since the early 1990's, from less than 40 visits per 1,000 children under age 18 in 1990 to 89 visits per 1,000 in 2004.
  • Among race/ethnic groups, Puerto Rican and non-Hispanic black children were reported to have the highest percentages of asthma (19.2 and 12.7 respectively).
  • According to 2003 data, children with at least one asthma attack in the previous year (nearly 4 million children) missed a cumulative total of 12.8 million school days due to asthma.
  • Asthma-related emergency department visits for children have remained fairly stable from 1992 to 2004 (103 visits per 10,000 children in 2004 compared to 97.6 visits per 10,000 in 1992).
  • Among the 37 states for which data were available, the states with the highest percentage of children with asthma were: Massachusetts, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Maryland, and Rhode Island. The states with the lowest percentage of children with asthma were: Utah, California, Iowa, Tennessee, and Washington.

"The State of Childhood Asthma, United States: 1980-2005" is available at



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