Asthma Prevalence Among US Adults, 1998-2000: Role of Puerto Rican Ethnicity and Behavioral and Geographic Factors

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We analyzed asthma prevalence among US adults by age, gender, race, Puerto Rican ethnicity, and other demographic, behavioral, health, and geographic variables. We hypothesized that high prevalences would be observed among Puerto Ricans and in the Northeast census region.


We used data from the 1998 through 2000 US National Health Interview Surveys. Information on lifetime history of asthma and asthma in the past year was collected from 95 615 adults. We calculated weighted prevalence estimates and odds ratios from logistic regression.


Of US adults, 8.9% had ever been diagnosed with asthma, and 3.4% had experienced an episode in the past 12 months. Asthma diagnosis rates were highest among Puerto Ricans (17.0%) and lowest among Mexican Americans (3.9%); rates were 9.6% and 9.2% among non-Hispanic Blacks and non-Hispanic Whites, respectively. Geographically, asthma prevalence was highest in the West (10.5%) and lowest in the Northeast (8.6%). Puerto Ricans in all regions had high asthma rates.


Significant variables in the final logistic regression model included race/ethnicity, obesity, poverty, female gender, and cigarette smoking. Higher asthma rates were confirmed among Puerto Ricans but not in the Northeast region.

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