Skip Navigation

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Office of Minority Health

Office of Minority Health (OMH) Logo

Asthma and African Americans

  • In 2018, 2.7 million non-Hispanic blacks reported that they currently have asthma.
  • Non-Hispanic African Americans were 40 percent more likely to have asthma than non-Hispanic whites, in 2018.
  • In 2019, non-Hispanic blacks were almost three times more likely to die from asthma related causes than the non-Hispanic white population.
  • In 2019, non-Hispanic black children had a death rate eight times that of non-Hispanic white children.
  • Non-Hispanic black children were 5 times more likely to be admitted to the hospital for asthma, as compared to non-Hispanic white children, in 2017.
  • While all of the causes of asthma remain unclear, children exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke exposure are at increased risk for acute lower respiratory tract infections, such as bronchitis. Children living below or near the poverty level are more likely to have high levels of blood cotinine, a breakdown product of nicotine, than children living in higher income families.1

Diagnosed

Current asthma prevalence percentage, adults ages 18 and over, 2018
  Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Men 9.7 5.9 1.6
Women 11.4 9.1 1.3
Both Sexes 10.6 7.6 1.4

Source: CDC 2021. National Health Interview Survey Data 2018. Table 4-1.
https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/nhis/2018/table4-1.htm

 

Percentage of asthma among adults 18 years of age and over, ever being told they had asthma, 2018
  Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Men 13.1 12.2 1.1
Women 15.8 16.2 1.0
Both Sexes 14.7 14.2 1.0

Source: CDC 2021. Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey: 2018. Table A-2a.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/shs/tables.htm

 

Percentage of adults ages 18 years and over who currently have asthma, 2018
  Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Men 6.8 5.9 1.2
Women 11.0 10.0 1.1
Both Sexes 9.2 8.0 1.2

Source: CDC 2021. Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey: 2018. Table A-2a.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/shs/tables.htm

 

Death Rate

Deaths per 100,000, with asthma as the underlying cause, National Vital Statistics System, 2019
Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
2.3 0.8 2.9

Source: CDC 2021. CDC WONDER Online Database.
https://wonder.cdc.gov/ [Accessed 01/21/2021]

 

Treatment

Estimated rate of emergency department visits with asthma as the first listed diagnosis per 100,000 population, National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, 2009
African American White African American / White Ratio
17.6 6.4 2.8

* Source: CDC 2012. National Surveillance for Asthma - United States, 2001-2010. Table 14
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_03/sr03_035.pdf [PDF | 910.46KB]

 

Hospital admissions rate per 100,000 for asthma, adults age 18 to 39, 2017
Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
88.5 23.6 3.8

Source: National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports. Data Query: Table 5_4_1_7_1.1 [Accessed 01/21/2021] http://nhqrnet.ahrq.gov/inhqrdr/data/query

 

Percentage of people with current asthma who are taking preventive medicine daily or almost daily, 2016
Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
19.5 22.9 0.9

Source: National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports. Data Query: Table 6_9_3_1_1.1 [Accessed 01/21/2021] http://nhqrnet.ahrq.gov/inhqrdr/data/query

 

Children

Age-adjusted percentage for children under 18 years of age, ever being told they had asthma, 2018
Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
18.0 9.4 1.9

Source: CDC 2021. Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey: 2018. Table C-1a.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/shs/tables.htm

 

Age-adjusted percentage for children under 18 years of age who currently have asthma, 2018
Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
14.2 5.6 2.5

Source: CDC 2021. Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey: 2018. Table C-1a.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/shs/tables.htm

 

Current asthma prevalence percentage, children ages 18 and under, 2018
  Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Boys 16.8 5.0 3.4
Girls 11.7 6.2 1.9
Both Sexes 14.3 5.6 2.6

Source: CDC 2021. National Health Interview Survey Data 2018. Table 4-1.
https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/nhis/2018/table4-1.htm

 

Hospital admissions rate per 100,000 for asthma, children ages 2-17, 2017
Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
216.5 41.9 5.2

Source: National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports. Data Query: Table 5_4_1_7_2.1 [Accessed 01/21/2021]
http://nhqrnet.ahrq.gov/inhqrdr/data/query

 

Death rate for children 0-17 years of age, 2003-2005 (deaths per 1,000,000)
Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
9.2 1.3 7.1

* Source: CDC 2006. The State of Childhood Asthma, United States, 1980-2005. Table B. [Accessed 04/28/2016]
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ad/ad381.pdf [PDF | 365KB]

 

Death rate for children 0-14 years of age, 2019 (deaths per 100,000)
Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
0.8 0.1 8.0

Source: CDC 2021. CDC WONDER Online Database.
https://wonder.cdc.gov/ [Accessed 01/21/2021]

 

The proportional impact of asthma prevalence percentage, health care use and mortality among children 0–17 years of age, by race and ethnicity, United States, 2003-2004
  Non-Hispanic Black Non-Hispanic White Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Current prevalence (2004-2005) 146 92 1.6
Emergency department visit rate 254 66 3.8
Death rate 354 50 7.1

1 Source: CDC 2006. The State of Childhood Asthma, United States, 1980-2005. Table VIII.
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/ad/ad381.pdf [PDF | 365KB]
* NOTE: This is the most recent national data which is available at this time.

Last Modified: 2/11/2021 11:16:00 AM