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Dec 28, 2015 07:01 AM EST

Asthma in children on the decline


According to a government analysis, the number of children asthma in the U.S. has finally stopped increasing and may have started falling, Wamu reports.

The percentage of U.S. children with asthma doubled in the 1980s and 1990s and had been increasing steadily since then.

"That was a big surprise," said Lara Akinbami of the National Center for Health Statistics.

"We were expecting the increase to kind of continue. But in fact we saw the opposite."

According to the report, among children ages 17 and younger, the prevalence of asthma increased to 9.7 percent in 2011 and then remained stagnant until 2013, when it declined to 8.3 percent.

The reasons for the increase in asthma in children include exposure to secondhand smoke, obesity and children's immune systems failing to develop properly.

Akinbami and her colleagues spotted the change when they studied data from the National Health Interview Survey between 2001 and 2013.

The report was published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

However, asthma continues to rise among children in the poorest families and is more prevalent among African-American children than white children.

More than 14 percent of black children have asthma, compared to about 8 percent of white children.

Akinbami said that it was not clear,

"whether 2013 represents just one of the fluctuations in that leveling or whether that's going to show us the beginning of a decreasing trend,"

"It is good news for kids," says Stephen Teach, Chairman of pediatrics at the Children's National Health System in Washington.

"It's an economic and health care drag on our system and our potential for children to develop," Teach says.

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