Genes may raise asthma risk for blacks - US study

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CHICAGO, Sep 25 (Reuters) Blacks in the United States are more likely than whites to need urgent care for asthma, for reasons that may be genetic, researchers reported.

The yesterday's report from the University of California, San Francisco, covered 678 patients who had hospital treatment for asthma between 2000 and 2004 and were checked over a follow-up period to see if they needed emergency room treatment or readmission to hospital.

More than 35 per cent of the blacks sought emergency room help later on, compared with 21 per cent of whites, the study found, and more than 26 per cent of blacks -- compared with just over 15 per cent of whites -- wound up back in the hospital.

The authors, writing in this month's Archives of Internal Medicine, said previous studies tracked the racial disparity among asthma patients but found significant differences in therapy, including less use among blacks of inhaled steroids used for long-term asthma control.

But the new research found that therapy could not explain the different outcomes for blacks and whites, nor could socioeconomic status or the severity of the asthma to begin with.

''These findings suggest that genetic differences may underlie these racial disparities,'' the study concluded.

''Further investigation of genetic differences and gene-environment interactions in black populations is needed to better understand the reasons.'' REUTERS SZ KP0842

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