The Effects of Acculturation on Asthma Burden in a Community Sample of Mexican American Schoolchildren

Martin, M.A., Shalowitz, M.U., Mijanovich, T., Clark-Kauffman, E., Perez, E. & Berry, C.
American Journal of Public Health, Jul 2007, Vol. 97 Issue 7, p1290-1296, 7p.

We sought to determine whether low acculturation among Mexican American caregivers protects their children against asthma. Methods. Data were obtained from an observational study of urban pediatric asthma. Dependent variables were children's diagnosed asthma and total (diagnosed plus possible) asthma. Regression models were controlled for caregivers' level of acculturation, education, marital status, depression, life stress, and social support and children's insurance. Results. Caregivers' level of acculturation was associated with children's diagnosed asthma (P=.025) and total asthma (P=.078) in bivariate analyses. In multivariate models, protective effects of caregivers' level of acculturation were mediated by the other covariates. Independent predictors of increased diagnosed asthma included caregivers' life stress (odds ratio [OR]= 1.12, P=.005) and children's insurance, both public (OR=4.71, P=.009) and private (OR = 2.87, P=.071). Only caregiver's life stress predicted increased total asthma (OR = 1.21, P=.001). Conclusions. The protective effect of caregivers' level of acculturation on diagnosed and total asthma for Mexican American children was mediated by social factors, especially caregivers' life stress. Among acculturation measures, foreign birth was more predictive of disease status than was language use or years in country. Increased acculturation among immigrant groups does not appear to lead to greater asthma risk.

Wagner Faculty