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African Americans experience worse asthma morbidity and mortality than Caucasian Americans. Research from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reported that African American children respond differently to asthma therapy than African American adults, Caucasian children, and Caucasian adults. Yet, tailoring asthma treatment for African American children may prove difficult, as these children have not been adequately represented in asthma clinical trials.

This study consisted of 280 African American children and 294 African American adolescents and adults whose asthma was not controlled with low-dose inhaled corticosteroids. Researchers followed standard treatment guidelines by adding long-acting beta-agonists, increasing the inhaled corticosteroids, or pursuing both treatment options. They measured subject response to treatment by evaluating exacerbations, lung function, and the number of asthma control days.

It was found that 49% of African American adults responded better to adding on a long-acting beta-agonist. Only 28 to 31% responded to an inhaled medium-dose or high-dose corticosteroid, respectively. These results are similar to those found in Caucasian children and adults. However, 46% of African American children responded to increasing the corticosteroid alone and 46% responded to adding on a long-acting beta-agonist.

In conclusion, African American children respond differently to asthma treatment and have lacked the representation required in clinical trials for optimal asthma treatment. Current guidelines for asthma treatment do not provide adequate information for African American children. More studies must be performed that account for these differences, and new guidelines must be developed for asthma treatment in African American children [1].


[1] African American children respond differently to asthma medications. (2019, September 27). EurekAlert! https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-09/njh-aac092719.php

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