In 1988, the National Health Interview Survey contained a supplemental questionnaire on childhood conditions that included asthma. The authors used these data from 17 110 households to determine the disease burden resulting from asthma and to determine the functional status of children with and without asthma by linking information from the core and supplemental questionnaires. The prevalence of asthma in children younger than 18 years of age in the United States as reported by an adult in the household was 4.3% in 1988 and was 3.2% in 1981, the last time a comparable questionnaire was used in the National Health Interview Survey. The difference between the prevalences of asthma was statistically significant (95% confidence interval for the difference was 0.7% to 1.5%). An estimated 2.7 million children younger than 18 years were reported by an adult in the household to have had asthma in the past year. The added burden of illness experienced by children with asthma compared with children without asthma was an additional 10.1 million days missed from school, 12.9 million contacts with medical doctors, and 200 000 hospitalizations. Almost 30% of children with asthma had some limitation in activity, compared with only 5% of children without asthma. A greater proportion of black children experienced more severe functional disability and had more frequent hospitalizations than white children with asthma. Ten percent of children with asthma had severe disease as measured by frequency of bother and limitations in function; these children accounted for 35% of hospitalizations for asthma and 77% of the days in the hospital. Ultimately, measures of the impact of disease on health become important tools to evaluate the effectiveness of prevention and treatment.
- Received August 28, 1991.
- Accepted March 30, 1992.
- Copyright © 1992 by the American Academy of Pediatrics