OBJECTIVE. To examine differences in asthma prevalence and emergency department (ED) visits for asthma between non-Hispanic black and white children, and factors that might explain those differences, in a large, nationally representative sample covering the period 1997 to 2003.

METHODS. Bivariate and multivariate regression analyses (with logit and multinomial logit methods) were conducted with a sample consisting of all non-Hispanic black and white children (<18 years of age) from the 1997 to 2003 rounds of the National Health Interview Survey. Models included a progressively larger set of controls for factors that might explain racial differences in asthma prevalence and ED visits for asthma.

RESULTS. Being black was associated with a greater likelihood of currently having asthma and with a greater likelihood of having gone to the ED for asthma treatment in the past 1 year. Elevated asthma risks for black children were robust after controlling for a host of child and family characteristics that might explain them.

CONCLUSIONS. Black children are more likely to have asthma and to experience ED visits for asthma, compared with otherwise comparable white children, and these racial disparities cannot be explained by differences in measurable child or family characteristics. These results suggest that racial disparities in asthma continue to pose risks for black children, and they point to the need for additional research into potential explanations and remedies.

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