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We're working to help you breathe easier.
Asthma is a severe and chronic disease that affects approximately 300 million people worldwide and more than 16 million adults and nearly 7 million children in the United States alone.
In 2005, there were nearly 1.8 million emergency department visits for asthma. There were also 489,000 hospitalizations for asthma: 159,000 of these involved children under age 15. More than 10 million work days are lost to asthma each year, and in 2007 the direct and indirect costs of asthma to the U.S. economy were $19.7 billion.
Asthma is one of the leading chronic childhood diseases, a major cause of childhood disability, and places a huge burden on affected children and their families, limiting the child’s ability to learn, play and even sleep. Children miss about 13 million school days each year because of asthma.
African Americans are diagnosed with asthma at a 28 percent greater rate than the rate in whites. African American children are hospitalized for asthma at 250 percent of the rate, and die at 500 percent of the rate, of white children.
The cause of asthma remains unknown. Through research programs and the efforts of hundreds of independent researchers, NIAID is working to understand the underlying causes of asthma and reduce the burden of this disease.
Last Updated February 18, 2009