Rates of ADHD and asthma are increasing in children who live in poverty, according to a study to be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies 2016 Meeting in Baltimore.

The study included data from the National Survey of Children’s Health from 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2012. The researchers looked for trends in asthma, ADHD, and autism by sociodemographic characteristics as well as trends in comorbidities among children with these conditions.

During the study period, children living in poverty experienced significant increases in asthma rates (25.8% for those living at 0% to 99% of the federal poverty level, 14.9% for those living at 100% to 199%) and ADHD rates (43.2% for those living at 0% to 99% of the federal poverty level, 52.4% for those living at 100% to 199%), compared with children not living in poverty.

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The number of children who had asthma and ADHD with 2 or more comorbidities also significantly increased among those living in poverty (27.28% and 32.44%, respectively), compared with children not living in poverty.

The researchers also found that children with asthma, ADHD, or autism who had public insurance had a significantly increased risk for having more than 1 comorbid condition.

“Especially with the recent release of the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines suggesting poverty screening as an essential component at every child health visit, we need to be aware that poor children already at greater risk for common childhood illnesses such as asthma, ADHD, and autism often face even more medical conditions on top of these,” stated Christian D. Pulcini, MD, MEd, MPH, of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.


  1. Pulcini CD, Zima B, Kelleher K, et al. Poster 525: National trends in prevalence and co-morbid chronic conditions among children with asthma, autism spectrum disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Presented at: Pediatric Academics Societies 2016 Meeting; April 30 – May 3, 2016; Baltimore, Md.