Environmental Concerns for Children with Asthma on the Navajo Nation

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Navajo children living on the reservation have high rates of asthma prevalence and severity. Environmental influences may contribute to asthma on the Navajo Nation and are inadequately understood.


We performed a comprehensive, integrative literature review to determine the environmental factors that may contribute to increased asthma prevalence and severity among Navajo children living on the reservation.


A systematic search was conducted in four databases regarding the environmental risk factors for asthma in Navajo children living on the reservation. Relevant studies between 1990 and 2017 were examined. Nonexperimental literature was also integrated into the review to describe the environmental injustices that have historically, disproportionately, and systematically affected the Navajo people, thus contributing to respiratory disparities among Navajo children.


Eight studies met inclusion criteria for systematic review; however, limited research regarding environmental risk factors specific to asthma and Navajo children living on the reservation was identified. Our integrative review indicated both indoor and outdoor environmental risk factors commonly found on the Navajo reservation appear to be important determinants of asthma.


Future research should examine indoor and outdoor air pollution from wood-burning stoves and cook stoves, coal combustion, tobacco and traditional ceremonial smoke, diesel exhaust exposure from long bus rides, indoor allergens, ambient pollutants, and regional dusts. Comprehensive mitigation efforts created in partnership with the Navajo Nation are necessary to address less-recognized risk factors as well as the common risk factors known to contribute to increased childhood asthma prevalence and severity.

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