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'Asthma bothers boys more'

Boys under the age of 15 years are more likely than girls of this age to be hospitalized for asthma, a new research suggests.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2006 13:22 IST

Boys under the age of 15 years are more likely than girls of this age to be hospitalized for asthma, but this is largely because more boys than girls have asthma, new research suggests.

Age-related differences in sex prevalence have been "consistently reported" in hospitalized asthma patients, note California-based investigators in the journal Chest. Up to twice as many inpatients younger than 15 years are male, while up to three times as many hospitalized patients older than 15 are female.

"This could either be due to prevalence differences...or gender discrepancies in asthma severity or treatment," Dr. Michael Schatz, head of the department of allergy at Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in San Diego told Reuters Health.

To find out, Schatz and colleagues reviewed the medical records of a random sample of 606 children aged 2 to 17 years and 680 adults who were hospitalized for acute asthma during a one-year period.

Consistent with prior reports, the sex ratio varied significantly by age. The majority of children hospitalized for asthma were males while the majority of adults hospitalized for asthma were females.

A closer look into the medical records failed to reveal any differences in asthma severity or pre- or post-hospital treatment of asthma in boys versus girls. "This suggests that the gender difference in hospitalization rate in children is totally a reflection of prevalence," Schatz said.

Similarly, there were no significant treatment differences in hospitalized adults. However, the investigators noticed that the women coming to the hospital had better lung function compared to men.

This, Schatz noted, is consistent with other data suggesting that asthmatic women may have more symptoms and more distress in response to a given level of airway obstruction than males.

"This increased sensitivity to airway obstruction may in part contribute to the increased risk of asthma hospitalization in adult women," Schatz and his colleagues conclude.

First Published: Jan 28, 2006 13:12 IST