Asthma disproportionately affects minority populations and is associated with psychosocial stress, such as racial/ethnic discrimination. We aim to examine the association of perceived discrimination with having asthma and poor asthma control in African American and Latino youth.
We included African American (n=954), Mexican American (n=1086), other Latino (n=522), and Puerto Rican Islander (n=1025) youth (aged 8 to 21 years old) from the GALA II and SAGE II studies. Asthma was defined by physician-diagnosis and asthma control was defined based on the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute guidelines. Perceived racial/ethnic discrimination was assessed by the Experiences of Discrimination questionnaire with focus on school, medical, and public settings. We examined the associations of perceived discrimination with each outcome and whether socioeconomic status (SES) and global African ancestry modified these associations.
African American children reporting any discrimination had 78% greater odds of asthma (OR: 1.78; 95% confidence intervals [CI]:1.33-2.39) than those not reporting discrimination. Similarly, African American children faced increased odds of poor asthma control with any experience of discrimination (OR: 1.97; 95%CI:1.42-2.76) than their counterparts not reporting discrimination. These associations were not observed among Latino children. We observed heterogeneity of the association between reports of discrimination and asthma according to SES with reports of discrimination increasing the odds of having asthma in low SES Mexican American youth (interaction-p-value=0.01) and amongst high SES other Latino youth (interaction-p-value=0.04).
Perceived discrimination is associated with increased odds of asthma and poorer control among African American youth. Socioeconomic status exacerbates the effect of perceived discrimination on having asthma among Mexican American and other Latino youth.