Hispanics in Florida Have High Asthma Rates; Puerto Ricans Most Affected
More than 10% of Hispanics in Florida have asthma, about the same rate as all people in Florida, according to the state Department of Health, and Puerto Ricans in particular have a higher risk of the condition, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
Nationally, about 11.2% of Americans have asthma. That number doubles for those of Puerto Rican descent, the Sentinel reports.
The state health department in 2006 reported increasing numbers of asthma-related hospitalizations in Orange County, "home to thousands of Puerto Rican families," according to the Sentinel.
Jim Cundiff, program director at the Florida Lung Association, said that Puerto Ricans have rates 140% higher than those among non-Hispanic white children. Cundiff added that Puerto Ricans die four times as often as other groups from asthma-related symptoms.
Eric Gray, executive director of the Central Florida chapter of the American Lung Association, said, "People of Puerto Rican descent, for whatever reason, have a higher genetic predisposition to be born with asthma than the average human being."
To address the issue, the Florida Lung Association is expanding its Open Airways for Schools programs in Orange and Osceola counties to reach elementary schools with many Puerto Rican children.
"Hispanics, regardless of their country of birth or ancestry, have to understand that asthma is a serious disease that kills 11 people every day in the U.S.," Jose Arias, an Orlando asthma and allergy specialist, said (Hernandez, Orlando Sentinel, 6/21).