Childhood asthma rates rise

About 14% of children in the United States were diagnosed with asthma in 2011, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. That continues a trend of growing childhood asthma rates, though there is a caveat. “Between 1980 and 1995, childhood asthma more than doubled, to 8%. Methods for measurement of childhood asthma changed in 1997, so earlier data cannot be compared to data from 1997–2011.”

The statistics were published in the report “America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013” ( The main thrust of the report is that nearly a quarter of children in the United States live in poverty, affecting their safety, education, and health. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that many children with asthma lack health insurance.

The report also says that about 10% of children in 2011 had asthma and that 5% of all children had one or more asthma attacks in the previous year.

Percentage of children up to age 17 with asthma, 1997–2011

Percentage of children up to age 17 with asthma, 1997-2011

NOTE: From 1997 to 2011, children are identified as ever diagnosed with asthma by asking parents “Has a doctor or other health professional EVER told you that your child has asthma?” If the parent answered YES to this question, they were then asked (1) “Does your child still have asthma?” and (2) “During the past 12 months, has your child had an episode of asthma or an asthma attack?” The question “Does your child still have asthma?” was introduced in 2001 and identifies children who currently have asthma.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey.

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