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New Registry Aims To Figure Out Why Some Kids Are More Likely To Have Asthma

Allegheny County Health Department
Asthma hospitalization and emergency department visits for pediatric patients in Allegheny County.

An asthma registry for children secured $300,000 in funding from the Allegheny County Board of Health on Wednesday. The registry could illuminate why certain areas of the county have higher rates of the chronic respiratory condition. 

The collaboration between the county, UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health will gather data on a far more granular level than what is currently documented, by collaborating with families. The goal is to monitor patients over time and by location, identifying specific home and environmental factors that might make it difficult for kids to breath.

“Place matters, geography matters,” said Dr. Elizabeth Miller, Director of Community Health at Children’s, one of the researchers behind the registry.

Miller said the health community isn’t doing enough to confront the issue, pointing to the fact that more than 10 percent of hospitalizations at Children’s are asthma-related.

“That is an indication that we as a system, both in the health care delivery system, the public health system, but really much more in terms of thinking about the social determinants of health, that we’re frankly failing our children.”

The proposal said that information gleaned from the registry will lead to better health interventions and educational outreach.

The health department reports that 12 percent of children and 10 percent of adults in Allegheny County have asthma. Black residents and those who live in Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg and the Mon Valley are more likely to have the condition.

WESA receives funding from UPMC.