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Latino Daily News

Monday December 27, 2010

One of World’s Highest Prevalence Rates for Asthma is in Puerto Rico

This year the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is facing a jump in the asthma cases reported amongst children, and the island’s children are nearly 300 percent more likely to have respiratory ailments than the general population in the U.S.  Approximately 30 percent of the children here are diagnosed with the chronic condition.

Health officials have been trying to figure out why tens of thousands children live with chronic asthma, since the island also has one of the highest asthma prevalence rates in the world.  These staggering statistics result in asthma death rates in Puerto Rico 2.5 times higher than anywhere else.  And Puerto Rican’s living in the U.S., outside the island territory, are not immune they also have a 2.5 higher rate of asthma attacks then the white population.

Despite decades of research the causes for this predisposition to asthma amongst Puerto Rican’s remains a mystery.  To compound matters, the common remedy of Albuterol inhalers used to calm attacks do not seem to work as effectively amongst this demographic. 

Many potential causes exist from volcanic ash from nearby Monsterrat, living in crowded public housing, to heavy rains releasing millions of spores to a genetic predisposition.  The high prevalence rate has resulted in loss of productivity, high health care costs and almost 25,000 annual asthma-related emergency room visits.