Led by Tracy Lieu, associate professor of ambulatory care and prevention at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Harvard Medical School, the researchers interviewed parents of children with asthma who were insured by Medicaid programs.
Of the children, 38 percent were black, 19 percent Latino, and 31 percent white. The researchers studied the effects of ethnicity and the effects of familial factors.
The results show that black children had worse asthma on average than white or Latino children. Latino children had fewer symptom days than white or black children but were rated by parents as having more severe symptoms.
Both black and Latino children were less likely than white children to use daily inhaled anti-inflammatory medications. However, among children with persistent asthma, only 33 percent of whites were using the drugs, compared with 28 percent of blacks and 22 percent of Latinos.
Lieu says that these results show that treatment is an issue for children of all ethnicities.
“What’s unique about our study is that all the children had Medicaid, and all were in similar systems of care. That means the disparities cannot be explained by differences in financial access to health care systems.”