A new Princeton University study links childhood asthma and residential segregation.
Black children are twice as likely to develop asthma as a child. According to ScienMag, prior research suggest that this may be due to a lower average birth weight (while low birth rate increases the likelihood of a child developing asthma, it isn’t the “cause” and the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology says there is no association between the two). However, even when comparing infants of all races with low birth rate, Black children are still more likely to develop asthma.
To help figure out why, Professor Janet M. Currie and Princeton Ph.D. Diane Alexander co-authored a study where they “compared low-birth-weight children of all races and ethnicities who lived in ‘Black’ ZIP codes in New Jersey.” They defined them as areas in which half or more of the residents are Black.
What Currie and Alexander found was that, regardless of race, all low-birth-weight children in these ZIP codes, had higher risk of asthma. Since a physical trigger is need to cause the disease, the researchers speculated that air pollution is to blame. The New Jersey communities studied were nearer to busy highways and “twice as close as other neighborhoods to major industrial sources of air pollution.”
They also found that the houses in these neighborhoods were about seven years older than other neighborhoods, and parents in these neighborhoods are “somewhat more likely to smoke indoors”. Around 63 percent of Black children in New Jersey live in these areas.