Housing discrimination increases asthma symptoms in children, study finds

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that housing discrimination exacerbates asthma symptoms in children.

“In this census tract right here where we stand, there are 268 people out of every 10,000 who have asthma,” said Erin Boggs, a civil rights lawyer and executive director, Open Communities Alliance. “In Glastonbury [the next town over], the same statistic is seven out of 10,000.”

Shavonne Dawson lives in a rental unit in Hartford’s Barbour Street neighborhood.

“I've seen the mold in the pipes,” she said. “Like we actually plunged and had to snake the pipes because of the mold in the pipes,”

Dawson said her son was diagnosed with asthma at the emergency room, and was sent home with a nebulizer pump.


In Torrington, pediatrician Dr. Lucia Benzoni says her asthma patients who moved out of suboptimal housing no longer end up in the ER.

“I had a little boy who was 11, who had been in and out of the hospital, and his parents moved into a single family home,” she said. “And they didn't have people smoking below them anymore. And that child ended up in the emergency room not even once [after the move].”

The Baltimore study enrolled 123 children of whom 97.6% were Black. Prior to moving, 81% lived in a high-poverty census tract. The study also included measures of stress, such as neighborhood safety, which improved with relocation and were linked to asthma exacerbations.


Housing discrimination increases asthma symptoms in children, study finds, Sujata Srinivasan, Connecticut Public Radio, June 9, 2023, available here

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