Asthma Rates Up in Young Women
Swedish researchers say young women have higher rates of asthma than other adults.
WebMD News Archive
May 24, 2005 (San Diego) -- The rate of asthma continues to steadily
increase worldwide, but younger women may be particularly susceptible.
"Young women had the highest risk of developing asthma," says Lars
Larsson, MD, PhD, associate professor of respiratory medicine at the University
of Ostersund, Sweden. "We aren't sure why young women have higher rates of
asthma. However, we do know they smoked more than the other groups."
Swedish researchers presented their study at the American Thoracic Society
"This is an important issue," says J. Randall Curtis, MD,
international program chairman of the American Thoracic Society "This is
study to identify young women as being at highest risk for adult-onset
While other studies have documented a rise in the number of asthma cases,
this study clearly identifies young women as being at higher risk, he says.
Asthma and Women
Swedish researchers surveyed more than 11,000 individuals in 1990.
Participants of various ages were questioned about any respiratory symptoms.
Thirteen years later, a second survey was taken of the same group, with 8,000
Six percent of teenage girls surveyed back in 1990 had asthma. That number
dramatically increased 13 years later when 17% of the same young women reported
having asthma, Larsson says.
The next highest rate of asthma was found in young men. Initially 6%
reported having asthma. More than a decade later, 14% had been diagnosed with
While the rates of asthma in middle-aged and older Swedes also increased, it
was not as dramatic as in younger adults. The incidence of asthma in
middle-aged adults increased from about 5% in the 1990 survey to 11% in the
2003 survey; the rates of asthma in the elderly increased from 6% to 10%.
The researchers concluded that young women have the highest risks of
developing adult-onset asthma. Overall the rate of developing asthma was 8% in
women and 6% in men, Larsson says.
There were other risk factors for developing asthma that the researchers
- If a family member had asthma, it increased a person's asthma risk
- Younger-age individuals had twice the risk of developing asthma than older
- Women had 1.2 times the risk of developing asthma than men.
"Being overweight and smoking were big risk factors," Larson says.
Obesity placed individuals at 1.5 times the risk of developing asthma, and
smoking posed a 1.2 times higher risk than nonsmoking.
Nineteen percent of women and 15% of men smoked, he says.
Larsson says he is unsure why young women were more apt to develop asthma
than other Swedish adults, but smoking and weight may contribute to the high