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Wealthy may have greater risk of death from asthma

By Ella Pickover

Wealthier children and young adults may be more likely to die from asthma than their poorer peers, according to a new study.

For many conditions, being poor has been linked to worse health outcomes.

A new study, published in the journal Thorax, found that asthma mortality among children and younger adults in England was more common in more affluent areas.

Experts from St George's, University of London, and the University of Edinburgh compared asthma outcomes across England over a number of years.

In England, there were 14,830 recorded asthma deaths between 2002 and 2015, including more than 1,400 among children and adults aged five to 44.

After analysing the data, the researchers said they found an "unusual and unexpected pattern" where asthma mortality among those aged five to 44 was more common in richer areas.

In most age groups the rate of asthma deaths was generally higher as deprivation increased, apart from those aged five to 44, where researchers noted a "modest but significant decrease in deaths from asthma with increasing levels of relative deprivation".

Among five to 44 year olds, mortality was 19% lower among the most deprived 20%, compared to the wealthiest 20%.

The authors said this was "unexpected" and speculated that it may be that affluent areas may have a higher prevalence of "a less predictable, more 'brittle'" form of asthma which can progress more rapidly and lead to death. There may also be a higher prevalence of allergies in richer groups.

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