Residential exposures associated with asthma in US children

Bruce P. Lanphear, C. Andrew Aligne, Peggy Auinger, Michael Weitzman, Robert S. Byrd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. Residential exposures are recognized risk factors for childhood asthma, but the relative contribution of specific risk factors and the overall contribution of housing to asthma in US children is unknown. The objective of this study was to identify risk factors and estimate the population attributable risk of residential exposures for doctor-diagnosed asthma for US children. Methods. A cross-sectional survey was conducted from 1988 to 1994. Survey participants were 8257 children who were <6 years old and who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a survey of the health and nutritional status of children and adults in the United States. The main outcome measure was doctor-diagnosed asthma, as reported by the parent. Results. Six percent of children had doctor-diagnosed asthma. The prevalence of asthma was higher among boys (6.7%) than girls (5.1%) and was higher among black children (8.9%) than white children (5.2%). Risk factors for doctor-diagnosed asthma included a family history of atopy (odds ratio [OR]: 2.2; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.5, 3.1), child's history of allergy to a pet (OR: 24.2; 95% CI: 8.4, 69.5), exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (OR: 1.8; 95% CI: 1.2-2.6), use of a gas stove or oven for heat (OR: 1.8; 95% CI: 1.02-3.2), and presence of a dog in the household (OR: 1.6; 95% CI: 1.1, 2.3). The population attributable risk of ≥1 residential exposure for doctor-diagnosed asthma in US children <6 years old was 39.2%, or an estimated 533 000 excess cases, whereas having a family history of atopy accounted for 300 000. The attributable cost of asthma as a result of residential exposures for children <6 years old was $402 million (95% CI: $296-$507 million) annually. Conclusions. The elimination of identified residential risk factors, if causally associated with asthma, would result in a 39% decline in doctor-diagnosed asthma among US children <6 years old.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-511
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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