Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children. It is an illness that affects the respiratory tract and airways that carry oxygen into and out of the lungs. During an asthma attack, these airways constrict, resulting in wheezing and difficulty breathing. Asthma can affect people of all ages, however it often starts in childhood and is more common in children than adults. Causes of asthma are unknown, however episodes of asthma (asthma attacks) can be triggered by certain environmental pollutants such as air pollution, mold, pets and pet dander, and dust mites. A number of studies have reported links between exposure to air pollution and asthma. Reducing exposure to these pollutants can help prevent symptoms.
In Massachusetts, the rate of pediatric asthma is higher than the national average. Beginning in 2002 and continuing through the present, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health/Bureau of Environmental Health (MDPH/BEH) has tracked the occurrence of pediatric asthma through school health records in students in kindergarten through 8th grade.
- Did You Know?
- In Massachusetts the prevalence of asthma is 12.4% among students in grades K-8. Source: MDPH Pediatric Asthma Surveillance Program 2013-2014 school year
The number and prevalence of children with asthma can be viewed by selecting from the choices on the right toolbar. For each year of data available, pediatric asthma prevalence estimates are compared to statewide prevalence to determine if they are statistically significantly higher, lower, or the same as the statewide pediatric asthma prevalence. In some instances, schools or communities may not be available when selecting data. This is due to the fact that MDPH does not have data available for that school or community in the year selected.
- Data Considerations
When reviewing and interpreting pediatric asthma data, it is important to take into consideration the following:
- The data available for pediatric asthma are limited to students in grades K-8.
- A variety of factors can impact asthma rates (e.g., socioeconomic factors). Therefore, when comparing rates across geographic areas, information such as access to medical care must also be considered.
- Prevalence is not age-adjusted. When comparing prevalence estimates across communities, keep in mind that some of the observed differences in prevalence estimates may be due to differences in the age distribution of students in each community.
- Available Data on Pediatric Asthma
Use the Explore Maps & Tables link on this page to access the following measures for pediatric asthma in your community on the right toolbar. The most current available data will be shown. Be sure to check the site periodically as new data are added each year. To protect privacy, no information is shown that could identify an individual.
- Pediatric asthma prevalence in public and private schools
- Pediatric asthma prevalence in communities, counties, and statewide (table and map)