January 26, 2007
A new report on asthma among North Carolinians, developed with input from researchers at the University of North Carolina’s School of Public Health, has just been published by the North Carolina Asthma Program housed within the North Carolina Division of Public Health.

The Burden of Asthma in North Carolina 2006, available online at www.asthma.ncdhhs.gov/ncapForProfs.htm, will help decision-makers determine where state and local asthma prevention and treatment efforts should be focused. The report looks at asthma in terms of morbidity, mortality, health care use, disease management and quality of life. It includes race, gender, age and geographic information, and identifies North Carolina groups at greatest risk for being adversely affected by the disease.

Photograph of Dr. Karin Yeatts

Photograph of Dr. Karin Yeatts

“The report highlights the still significant burden of asthma in North Carolina,” said Dr. Karin Yeatts, research assistant professor of epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health and co-chair of the Asthma Alliance of North Carolina. Yeatts reviewed drafts of the report, and, along with other members of the Asthma Alliance, provided editorial guidance in its development. The Alliance is a statewide partnership of over thirty local and state government agencies, academic institutions, local asthma coalitions, non-profits and private industry working collaboratively to address asthma.

“The North Carolina Asthma Program and its largest partner, the Asthma Alliance of North Carolina, will use the data in this report to develop a five-year plan to reduce the burden among our populations that are most affected by the disease of asthma,” said State Health Director Leah Devlin.

The report found that some groups are disproportionately affected by the disease, for instance:

  • Female adults have a higher prevalence of asthma than male adults, and females over age 35 are significantly more likely than males over age 35 to die from asthma;
  • African Americans are more likely than whites to die due to a primary cause of asthma.

The report also found that:

  • 2005 data suggest that North Carolina’s childhood current asthma prevalence (11.5 percent) exceeds the national average (8.5 percent in 2004).
  • There were more than 10,000 hospitalizations in which asthma was listed as a primary cause in North Carolina in 2004.
  • More than 651,000 adults and 311,000 children in North Carolina in 2005 reported being diagnosed with asthma at some time in their lives, and approximately 418,000 adults and 200,000 children reported that they were currently living with asthma.
  • The cost of asthma in North Carolina in 2003 was estimated to exceed $631 million including an estimated $362 million for direct costs such as physician visits, hospital stays, and medications and an estimated $269 million for indirect costs including lost work days, school absenteeism, loss of productivity and lost earnings.

For more information about asthma and the state’s asthma program, visit www.asthma.ncdhhs.gov.


UNC School of Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, (919) 966-7467 or ramona_dubose@unc.edu.

UNC News Services contact: Becky Oskin, (919) 962-8596 or becky_oskin@unc.edu.



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