City Living Doesn’t Cause Asthma, JHU Docs Say

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For years, people have been talking about how living in the city makes people more likely to develop asthma. The idea makes sense: Kids growing up in urban areas are probably more likely to be exposed to pollutants, indoor cigarette smoke, and other asthma triggers. But when a group of researchers at Johns Hopkins decided to explore that claim, they ended up finding something very different from what they expected to.

It turns out that your physical surroundings aren’t really what affect your risk of developing asthma. Indeed, the Hopkins researchers found that children in the city didn’t have higher rates of respiratory problems than their rural or suburban counterparts.

What they did find instead, however, was that there are a few factors that greatly increase a child’s risk of developing asthma: being poor, black, and/or Puerto Rican. “Our findings suggest that focusing on inner cities as the epicenters of asthma may lead physicians and public health experts to overlook newly emerging ‘hot zones’ with high asthma rates,” study author Dr. Elizabeth Matsui, an associate professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at Hopkins, told the Hopkins Hub.

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