TIME public health

Childhood Asthma Rates Might Be on the Decline

But there's still a big racial discrepancy

After years of dramatic increases in the number of American children suffering from asthma, rates have finally plateaued and in some cases declined.

According to research based on government surveys and published in the journal Pediatrics, the overall rate of asthma in kids aged 17 and younger peaked in 2011 at 9.7% and remained stable until 2013, when it declined to 8.3%. Certain groups, like kids under 5 and Midwesterners, saw bigger decreases than others.

While the researchers say this is tentatively good news, they pointed out that it’s unclear whether the 2013 number is an anomaly, and they can’t point to a cause, NPR reports. The new figures also represent social disparity: the rates continued to rise for the poorest children, and only 8% of white kids suffer from asthma, compared with 14% of black kids.

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