Parental language and asthma among urban Hispanic children

Giselle S. Mosnaim*, Laura S. Sadowski, Ramon A. Durazo-Arvizu, Lisa K. Sharp, Laura M. Curtis, Madeleine U. Shalowitz, John J. Shannon, Kevin B. Weiss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: Many Hispanics in the United States have limited English proficiency and prefer communicating in Spanish. Language barriers are known to adversely affect health care quality and outcomes. Objective: We explored the relationship between parent language preference in a Hispanic population and the likelihood that a child with symptoms receives a diagnosis of asthma. Methods: We conducted a school-based survey in 105 Chicago public and Catholic schools. Our sample included 14,177 Hispanic children 6 to 12 years of age with a parent who completed an asthma survey. Outcomes of diagnosed asthma and possible asthma (asthma symptoms without diagnosis) were assessed by using the Brief Pediatric Asthma Screen Plus instrument. Results: Overall, 12.0% of children had diagnosed asthma, and 12.7% had possible asthma. Parents of children at risk who completed the survey in English reported higher rates of asthma diagnosis compared with parents who completed it in Spanish (55.2% vs 36.3%, P < .001). Predictors of asthma diagnosis were child sex, parental language preference, parental asthma status, and other household members with asthma. Conclusions: Parental language preference might be an important characteristic associated with childhood asthma diagnosis. Whether language itself is the key factor or the fact that language is a surrogate for other attributes of acculturation needs to be explored. Clinical implications: Our findings suggest that estimates of asthma among Hispanic schoolchildren might be low because of underdiagnosis among children whose parents prefer communicating in Spanish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1160-1165
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Hispanic
  • asthma
  • language
  • pediatrics
  • school

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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