Asthma, body mass, gender, and Hispanic national origin among 517 preschool children in New York City.Allergy. 2008 Jan; 63(1):87-94.A
Striking differences in asthma prevalence have been reported among Hispanic adults and children living in different cities of the USA. Prevalence is highest among those of Puerto Rican and lowest among those of Mexican origin. We hypothesized that body size would mediate this association.
Parents of children in New York City Head Start programs completed a questionnaire including demographic factors, health history, a detailed history of respiratory conditions, lifestyle, and home environment. Children's height and weight were measured in home visits. Logistic regression was used to model the association of asthma with body mass index percentile (<85th percentile, gender/age specific vs>or=85th percentile, gender/age specific), national origin, and other factors.
Of 517 children at mean age of 4.0 +/- 0.6 years, 34% met the study criteria for asthma, and 43% were above the 85th percentile. Asthma was strongly associated with non-Mexican national origin, male gender, allergy symptoms, and maternal asthma, and marginally with body size. The odds of asthma among boys of non-Mexican origin was 5.9 times that among boys of Mexican origin [95% confidence interval (CI): 2.9-12.2]; the comparable odds ratio (OR) among girls was 1.8 (95% CI: 0.9-3.6). Body mass was associated with asthma among girls [OR = 2.0 (95% CI: 1.1-3.7)], but not boys [OR = 1.4 (95% CI: 0.8-2.6)].
The association of asthma with both body mass and national origin was gender-specific among the children in our study. Ours is one of the first studies to report on pediatric asthma in different Hispanic populations in the same city, by gender.