United States, El Puente: Asthma and Latino cultures - article in the American Journal of Public Health, 2000

The 1999 survey gathered data on asthma prevalence and cultural tradition for the purpose of assessing the use of home remedies for asthma. Respondents were asked to identify the household’s “cultural tradition” and respond to standard questions concerning asthma prevalence and symptoms as regards each household member.

Some 47% of households identified themselves as Dominican, 42% Puerto Rican, 6% other Latino and less than 5% Other. Reported asthma period prevalence (persons reported as having been told by a doctor they have asthma and experiencing one or more asthma symptoms in the previous 12 months) was 5.3% (93 of 1749) among Dominicans and other Latinos whereas it was 13.2% (147 of 1115) among Puerto Ricans. The odds ratio (OR) of 0.37 (95% CI: 0.28-0.49) was not explained by location (cluster or building), household size, health insurance status, use of home remedies, educational attainment or country where education was completed. Differences were least detectable among persons of both sexes from 13 to 24 years of age and boys aged 0 to 12, whereas among women 45 or older, the OR was 0.3 (95%CI: 0.14-0.6; 13 of 184 vs. 40 of 196). Among girls aged 0 to 12 the OR was 0.18 (95%CI: 0.08-0.41; 9 of 258 vs. 22 of 134).

Further research on gene-environment interactions is needed among Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, but asthma’s associations with low income and unhealthy environment, which more recent immigrants seem better able to withstand, should not be overlooked. While not ruling out possible genetic factors, the authors suggest that strong family and community supports among Dominicans and other Latinos may be responsible for lower chronic health conditions than might otherwise be expected in the adverse environment faced by immigrants in North Brooklyn.

This study was published in the American Journal of Public Health (Ledogar R, Penchaszadeh A, Iglesias Garden C, Garden Acosta L. Asthma and Latino cultures: Different Prevalence Reported Among Groups Sharing the Same Environment. Am J Public Health. 2000; 90;929-935.)  Available from: http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/reprint/90/6/929