The risk of developing asthma is doubled among children who have suffered physical or sexual abuse according to a study published in the September 2008 edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Puerto Ricans have the highest prevalence of asthma of all ethnic groups in the United States. One potential contributor to the high burden of asthma in Puerto Rican children is exposure to stress and violence.
Information was collected in a household survey of 1,213 children. The prevalence of physician-diagnosed asthma was 39.6%.
Stressful life events and exposure to neighborhood violence were not associated with asthma but a history of physical or sexual abuse was associated with approximately twice the odds of asthma.
According to the authors, this is the first study to find a link between child abuse and asthma.
The findings highlight the importance of screening for asthma among victims of childhood abuse, and to be aware of the possibility of physical or sexual abuse among children with asthma.
Asthma rates high among abused children. Reuters.
Violence, Abuse, and Asthma in Puerto Rican Children. Robyn T. Cohen, Glorisa J. Canino, Hector R. Bird and Juan C. Celedón. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine Vol 178. pp. 453-459, (2008).