Black Kids Have the Worst Rates of Asthma of Any Race in the U.S.

Black Kids Have the Worst Rates of Asthma of Any Race in the U.S.

The reason isn't solely genetic

As part of a larger investigation by the Associated Press on health disparities affecting African Americans in the U.S., the news organization came to some heartbreaking conclusions about the health of Black children.

Partly due to genetics, but mostly due to environmental factors like poor housing conditions, about 12 percent of Black children in America have asthma. That compares to 5.5 percent of white kids. Black children die from higher rates due to these breathing issues and they are more likely to have asthma than any other race.

The Associated Press story about asthma rates focuses on Black kids—such as 5-year-old Carter Manson from Hartford, Connecticut—who are dealing with constant terror from needing to have an inhaler at all times in case he has a panic attack or any other incident that impacts his breathing.

Related: Here’s Everything You Need to Know About RSV, the Viral Outbreak Endangering Young Children

The AP's investigation found that longtime systemic racism is partly to blame; Black Americans are still more likely to live in older housing or rental housing and those rentals are more likely to address problems that cause asthma triggers like mold, chemicals, and vermin like mice and roaches. Black families might also be living in areas that are more prone to air pollution; 4 in 10 Black children live in areas with poor environmental and health conditions, compared to 1 in 10 white children, the AP reports.

What's to be done about it? Apart from getting better healthcare and medications for what's a treatable condition, experts say better housing conditions and more representation in the medical industry could help. As the AP reports: "Advocates say increasing representation of Black doctors—including pulmonologists, allergists, immunologists, and researchers—is key to better care, eliminating bias and disrupting valid mistrust in doctors."