Epidemiology of asthma

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Disability-adjusted life year for asthma per 100,000 inhabitants in 2004.[1]

As of 2011, ~235 million people worldwide were affected by asthma,[2] and approximately 250,000 people die per year from the disease.[3] Low and middle income countries make up more than 80% of the mortality.[4] Rates vary between countries with prevalences between 1 and 18%.[3] It is more common in developed than developing countries.[3] One thus sees lower rates in Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa.[5] Within developed countries it is more common among those who are economically disadvantaged while in contrast in developing countries it is more common amongst the affluent.[3] The reason for these differences is not well known.[3]

While asthma is twice as common in boys as girls,[3] severe asthma occurs at equal rates.[6] In contrast adult women have a higher rate of asthma than men.[3] Asthma is more common in the young than the old.[5]

Increasing frequency[edit]

The prevalence of childhood asthma in the United States has increased since 1980, especially in younger children.

Rates of asthma have increased significantly between the 1960s and 2008 [7][8] with it being recognized as a major public health problem since the 1970s.[5] Some 9% of US children had asthma in 2001, compared with just 3.6% in 1980. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that some 10% of the Swiss population have asthma as of 2007, compared with 2% some 25–30 years ago.[9] In the United States the age-adjusted prevalence of asthma increased from 7.3 to 8.2 percent during the years 2001 through 2009.[10]

Region specific data[edit]

United States[edit]

Asthma affects approximately 7% of the population of the United States and causes approximately 4,210 deaths per year.[11][12][13] In 2005, asthma affected more than 22 million people, including 6 million children, and accounted for nearly 500,000 hospitalizations that same year.[14] In 2010, asthma accounted for more than one-quarter of admitted emergency department visits in the U.S. among children aged 1–9 years, and it was a frequent diagnosis among children aged 10–17 years.[15] From 2000 through 2010, the rate of pediatric hospital stays for asthma declined from 165 to 130 per 100,000 population, respectively, whereas the rate for adults remained about 119 per 100,000 population.[16]

Asthma prevalence in the U.S. is higher than in most other countries in the world, but varies drastically between ethnic populations.[17] Asthma prevalence is highest in Puerto Ricans, African Americans, Filipinos, Irish Americans, and Native Hawaiians, and lowest in Mexicans and Koreans.[18][19][20] Rates of asthma-related hospital admissions in 2010 were more than three times higher among African American children and two times higher for African American adults compared with White and Asian and Pacific Islander people.[16] Also, children who are born in low-income families have higher risk of asthma.[21]

Asthma prevalence also differs between populations of the same ethnicity who are born and live in different places.[22] U.S.-born Mexican populations, for example, have higher asthma rates than non-U.S. born Mexican populations that are living in the U.S.[23]

United Kingdom[edit]

Asthma affects approximately 5% of the United Kingdom’s population.[24] In England, an estimated 261,400 people were newly diagnosed with asthma in 2005; 5.7 million people had an asthma diagnosis and were prescribed 32.6 million asthma-related prescriptions.[25]


Data depicts an increasing trend in asthma prevalence among Canada’s population. In 2000-2001 asthma prevalence was monitored at 6.5%; by 2010-2011 a 4.3% increase was shown, with asthma prevalence totaling 10.8% of Canada's population.[26]

Furthermore, asthma prevalence varies among the provinces of Canada; the highest prevalence is Ontario at 12.1%, and the lowest is Nunavut at 3.8%.[26] Though there is an overall decrease in the incidence of new asthma cases in Canada, prevalence is rising. This can be attributed to a decrease in case-specific mortality due to improved management and control of asthma and its symptoms.

Latin and Central America[edit]

It is approximated that 40 million Latin Americans live with asthma.[27]

In some reports, urban residency within Latin America has been found to be associated with an increased prevalence of asthma.[27] Childhood asthma prevalence was found to be higher than 15 percent in a majority of Latin American countries.[28] Similarly, a study published relating to asthma prevalence in Havana, Cuba estimated that approximately 9 percent of children under the age of 15 are undiagnosed for asthma, possible due to lack of resources in the region.[27]


Data regarding the epidemiology of asthma in the continent of Asia as whole is scarce, particularly regarding adult populations. However, similarly to much of the rest of the globe, prevalence of childhood asthma appears to be rising. Systematic childhood studies, such as the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC), provide data regarding the epidemiology of asthma among Asia's youth population. Asthma prevalence among Asia’s adult population is less clear in comparison due to the comparatively higher monitoring of younger populations. However, the data available points to a positive correlation between age and asthma prevalence. Findings indicate that the prevalence of asthma among the Asian adult population is less than 5%; while findings pertaining to elderly populations illustrate a rate somewhere between 1.3-15.3%.[29]


  1. ^ "WHO Disease and injury country estimates". World Health Organization. 2009. Archived from the original on 11 November 2009. Retrieved November 11, 2009.
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  3. ^ a b c d e f g GINA 2011, pp. 2–5
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  9. ^ World Health Organization (2007). Global surveillance, prevention and control of chronic respiratory diseases: a comprehensive approach (PDF). pp. 15–20, 49. ISBN 978-92-4-156346-8. Archived from the original on 18 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-14.
  10. ^ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (May 2011). "Vital signs: asthma prevalence, disease characteristics, and self-management education: United States, 2001--2009". MMWR Morb. Mortal. Wkly. Rep. 60 (17): 547–52. PMID 21544044.
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  14. ^ NHLBI Guideline 2007, p. 1
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  19. ^ Davis AM, Kreutzer R, Lipsett M, King G, Shaikh N (August 2006). "Asthma prevalence in Hispanic and Asian American ethnic subgroups: results from the California Healthy Kids Survey". Pediatrics. 118 (2): e363–70. doi:10.1542/peds.2005-2687. PMID 16882779.
  20. ^ Johnson DB, Oyama N, LeMarchand L, Wilkens L (September 2004). "Native Hawaiians mortality, morbidity, and lifestyle: comparing data from 1982, 1990, and 2000". Pac Health Dialog. 11 (2): 120–30. PMID 16281689.
  21. ^ "C-FERST Issue Profile: Childhood Asthma". EPA. 2016-03-30. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
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  26. ^ a b Canada, Public Health Agency of; Canada, Public Health Agency of (2018-05-01). "Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in Canada, 2018". aem. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
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