Nineteen states had larger-than-average increases, and the states with the two highest increases were Oklahoma with a 2.03 percent increase and Alabama with a 1.91 percent increase.
Morrison said there are a lot of theories as to why these geographic differences exist, but her study wasn't designed to tease out the reasons, only to identify the disparity.
"Asthma is very multi-factorial, and these differences can be due to a lot of different things. These findings are a call to engage further studies because these differences may help us understand the causes of asthma, help manage the disease and design state-specific interventions," she explained.
Dr. Jennifer Appleyard, chief of allergy and immunology at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit, said: "The fact that rates are consistently going up jibes with my clinical impression that prevalence is increasing. But, it's hard to tell what's causing the differences among the states. Because asthma is so complicated, I don't know if it's just one thing. It's probably a whole host of reasons, such as geography and who seeks health care."
If you already have asthma, Morrison said, it's important to make sure you have a "medical provider that understands asthma, [and] works with you to develop an asthma action plan to help you control your asthma exacerbations. You need to be followed up routinely, so make sure you have a good medical home."
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology offers suggestions on potentially preventing asthma and allergies in children.
SOURCES: Teresa Ann Morrison, M.D., M.P.H., medical officer, Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch, National Center for Environmental Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, At
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