Asthma rate dropping overall but not among some groups

It's estimated 6.8 million children have asthma.

That's according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The disease is responsible for millions of trips to the emergency department each year across the nation, but there's some good news.

According to government surveys, the overall rate of asthma in kids aged 17 and younger declined to about 8 percent over the last few years, and certain groups, like kids under 5 and Midwesterners, saw bigger decreases than others.

A local doctor we spoke with says there are multiple factors for this good news.

"It was really scary. He would have constant attacks and he would end up in the emergency room," said Jennifer Diamond, of Goshen.

Diamond said when her son Ethan was diagnosed with asthma, it was life changing for him.

"It’s been wonderful once we started seeing Dr. Harris, and we got him the right medications, and inhalers and updrafts, and now it’s controlled," Diamond said.

Dr. Jim Harris, an allergist at the South Bend Clinic, said the recent study released showing asthma rates among children declining is encouraging.

"Access to health care is part of it. Understanding asthma more and improving the environment--we are seeing lower smoking rates--all these are factors involved to see the rates drop,” Harris said.

Harris said recognizing the symptoms of asthma are crucial.

"Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath flaring up of colds that last two weeks and recognize that that is something you don’t have to live with because asthma -- because they are very treatable,” Harris said.

For the Diamond family, asthma awareness and medication has made all the difference.

"It’s very freeing. We are not scared all time that we can’t go out or leave the house,” Jennifer Diamond said.

Childhood asthma rates appear to be dropping, but not among all groups, according to this same study. Only 8 percent of white kids suffer from asthma compared with 14 percent of black kids.

Doctors say lack of access to health care and healthy environment in regards to smoking and smog play a huge factor in different groups seeing different trends.

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