Poverty Widens Gap in Care for Asthma and Allergies

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Researchers Examine Socioeconomic Disparities at AAAAI Annual Meeting

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Socioeconomic disparities are a cause for concern in patients with asthma and allergies, according to several studies presented at the AAAAI Annual Meeting.

“We found that patients who have asthma and come from lower income households – making less than $50,000 every year – are one and a half times more likely to see treatment fail. They are also almost twice as likely to have an asthma exacerbation,” first author Juan Carlos Cardet, MD, with Brigham and Women’s Hospital said.

Cardet’s group surveyed 381 participants (from a trial examining the role of vitamin D treatment and asthma outcomes) and found that lower income is strongly associated with adverse asthma outcomes regardless of race, education and stress. “Income is an independent risk factor for worse asthma outcomes,” Cardet said. The survey was done in subjects in a clinical trial conducted by AsthmaNet, a multi-center network funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

A similar study, led by Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, with Northwestern Medicine and Lurie Children’s Hospital, examined socioeconomic disparities for families with food allergies. Gupta’s group found that food-allergic children in the lowest income stratum spend two and a half times more on emergency department and hospitalization costs.

Lower income families also tend to spend less money on specialists and spend less on out-of-pocket medication costs. “The first line of treatment for anaphylaxis is epinephrine, but, costs can be a barrier for many families. Some patients may keep expired autoinjectors or cannot afford to fill their prescription in the first place,” Gupta said.

Gupta added that opportunities exist to strengthen policies related to food allergy management and mandate that life-saving medications for anaphylaxis are more widely available, especially in public spaces.

“FARE funded the food allergy study to understand the disparities in the economic burden of childhood food allergy. This data shows the remarkable direct and out-of-pocket costs related to food allergies, which families have to bear,” said James R. Baker, Jr., MD, FAAAAI, CEO and chief medical officer of Food Allergy Research & Education. “This reinforces that food allergies are an important economic issue as well as a medical problem.”

For more information on food allergies, asthma or the AAAAI Annual Meeting, visit the AAAAI website. Research presented at the AAAAI Annual Meeting is published in an online supplement to The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The AAAAI represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 6,800 members in the United States, Canada and 72 other countries. The AAAAI’s Find an Allergist/Immunologist service is a trusted resource to help you find a specialist close to home.


Editor's notes:

·    This study was presented during the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, March 4-7 in Los Angeles. However, it does not necessarily reflect the policies or the opinions of the AAAAI.

·    A link to all abstracts presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting is available at annualmeeting.aaaai.org. Onsite Press Room number is (213) 743-6242.

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