Disparities in allergy testing and health outcomes among urban children with asthma

Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.
The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology (Impact Factor: 11.48). 11/2008; 122(4):748-53. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaci.2008.08.001
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Previous research has found that treating allergies and reducing exposure to allergens can reduce asthma morbidity.
We sought to examine whether urban asthmatic children were receiving care for allergies as part of a comprehensive asthma management plan.
A cross-sectional study, consisting of a parent-reported questionnaire, was conducted in 26 randomly selected New York City public elementary schools during the 2002-2003 school year.
In a sample of 5,250 children aged 5 to 12 years, 13.0% were found to have current asthma. The prevalence of allergy diagnosis was 21.0%. Less than half (47.3%) of the subjects with current asthma reported a physician's diagnosis of allergies. The frequency of a reported allergy diagnosis varied with race/ethnicity, ranging from 14.4% in Mexican American children to 67.9% in white children. Only 54.9% of asthmatic children with an allergy diagnosis reported allergy testing. Children from lower-/middle-income households and children with public forms of health insurance were the least likely to report testing (adjusted odds ratios, 0.18 and 0.46). Higher frequencies of reported allergy testing were associated with education on allergen avoidance, use of allergy medications, lower exposure to household allergens, and lower prevalence of wheezing.
Many children do not receive comprehensive asthma treatment that includes management of allergies and education on avoidance of household allergens. Lower reported allergy testing might indicate lower access to medical care among middle-income families who are ineligible for public programs but who do not have the income to access higher-quality care. Interventions aimed at improving medical care and adherence to treatment guidelines are necessary to decrease asthma morbidity.

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