Child Abuse Linked To Asthma In Black Women

A pretty child looking out of a windowPhysical and/or sexual abuse may be potential asthma causes in black women. In fact, abuse may more than double the odds of a child having asthma.  Researchers have made a connection between childhood abuse suffered by African-American women and asthma, which develops later in their lives.

As part of the Black Women’s Health Study at the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University, conducted from 1995 to 2011, a total of 28,456 women gave information on physical and sexual abuse suffered before age 11, as well as between the ages of 12 and 18.

The study found that an African-American woman who suffered abuse as a child saw her chances of developing asthma later in life increase 20 percent.

The link between physical abuse and asthma was stronger than that seen between sexual abuse and asthma, researchers said. Physical abuse includes actions intended to injure a child, while sexual abuse includes actions intended for the gratification of the abuser.

“This is the first prospective study to show an association between childhood abuse and adult-onset asthma,” Patricia Coogan, the lead author of the report, said in a statement. “The results suggest that chronic stress contributes to asthma onset, even years later.”

Coogan said childhood abuse causes stress that leads to “physiological consequences.” The stress of living in an abusive situation takes a toll on the body, specifically “on the immune system and on airway development.”

“Given the high prevalence of asthma and of childhood abuse in the United States, the association is of significant public health importance,” said Coogan, a senior epidemiologist at the Slone Epidemiology Center and an associate professor of epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health.

The prevalence of asthma among Americans increased from 7.3 percent, or approximately 20.3 million people, in 2001 to 8.2 percent, or 24.6 million people, in 2009.

Of those living with asthma, prevalence of the disease was greatest in children from low-income families and African-American children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the disease is characterized by the inflammation and narrowing of the airways leading to the lungs. These incidents lead to “wheezing, a whistling sound when you breathe, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.” The episodes usually take place at night or in the early hours of the morning.

According to the CDC, some 3,388 Americans die asthma-related deaths each year. Approximately 17 million asthma-related visits to doctor’s offices, hospitals, and emergency rooms take place each year, with most admitted patients having to receive care for an average of four days.

The United States Department of Health and Human Service’s National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System found that approximately 695,000 children under age 18 suffered some type of abuse or neglect in 2010

Among children who had crimes against them reported to Child Protective Services, 22 percent were African-American.

Idris Elba Hospitalized

According to The Rickey Smiley Morning Show, actor Idris Elba has been hospitalized after suffering an asthma attack just before the South African premiere of his upcoming film “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.”

READ: Can You Recognize An Asthma Emergency?

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At a Q&A following the premiere, director Justin Chadwick shared that Elba was in the hospital, but was recovering well.

Elba plays the iconic civil rights leader, Nelson Mandela in the upcoming biopic, which opens in the U.S. November 29th. Naomie Harris (“Skyfall”) co-stars as ex-wife Winnie Mandela.

READ: Foods That Trigger Asthma Symptoms

Asthma 101

Asthma is a chronic disease that can cause wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. If you think you might have asthma, but you haven’t yet been formally diagnosed, talk to your doctor about arranging an evaluation.

Once you have a formal diagnosis, your doctor will give you information about the condition and recommend a course of treatment. You may have questions or concerns about your diagnosis and how asthma will affect your health and your life. Communicate to your doctor the things that are most important to you that may be affected by your asthma, and find out how to manage the disease so that it doesn’t interfere with your favorite activities.

If you have asthma, here are the top 5 questions you need to ask your doctor:

  • With asthma, will it still be possible to participate in my favorite activities?
  • What is the best asthma treatment for me?
  • Can asthma be cured?
  • Does asthma change with age? Do people ever outgrow it?
  • How will asthma affect me over the long term?
  • What should I expect as a result of treatment? Will my symptoms go away?