Self-reported asthma rates in the U.S. have dropped to their lowest point in 10 years, according to a new report, but it’s unclear what is behind the drop in asthma and whether it has truly declined.
“We have no reason to feel the numbers are not correct,” said Jeannine Schiller, one of the authors of the survey and statistician with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “But we caution being overly excited since, following the first drop in quarter one of 2013, the rates have started to creep back up again, though not to the levels of 2009-2012.”
The report, based on a survey conducted by the CDC, found a self-reported asthma rate of 7.4 percent in 2013, while in 2009 this number had been pegged at 8.5 percent. This represents a significant drop and the lowest rate reported in a decade.
In addition, fewer asthma attacks were reported, with the 2013 data showing a rate of 3.8 percent, versus 4.4 percent in 2012 – the lowest rate of asthma attacks in over 15 years. Overall, the rate of asthma dropped the most in non-Hispanic black children and women (the gender as a whole).
The CDC surveyed about 47,000 people with asthma for the survey. The decline is so sharp that some are questioning whether some kind of statistical anomaly was behind the findings, rather than a true decline in asthma.
“Occasionally, we do see unexpected increases like this, and then the rates go back to what they were in previous years,” Schiller told Allergic Living. “Because of this, I feel more comfortable waiting until we have another year of data to see if the rates continue to stay lower.”
When more data is analyzed it will shed some light on whether this was a statistical anomaly or if the rate of asthma in the U.S. is truly on the decline.