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Facts and Figures

In Chicago, the childhood asthma rate has been reported to be on average 13%; however, the burden is unequally distributed, with 20% of Black children compared to 10% of White children affected.  Puerto Rican children have also been found to have high asthma rates, at approximately 20%.  Humboldt Park has the city's largest Puerto Rican community and a high percentage of African American families and has identified asthma as a significant problem.  The Sinai Improving Community Health Survey found that as many as 1 in 3 children in Humboldt Park may have asthma, a rate which far exceeds the city average of 13%. 

Risk Factors

  • Having a blood relative (such as a parent or sibling) with asthma

  • Having an allergic condition, such as atopic dermatitis or allergic rhinitis (hay fever)

  • Being overweight

  • Being a smoker

  • Exposure to secondhand smoke

  • Having a mother who smoked while pregnant

  • Exposure to exhaust fumes or other types of pollution

  • Exposure to occupational triggers, such as chemicals used in farming, hairdressing and manufacturing

  • Low birth weight



  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest tightness or pain

  • Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing

  • An audible whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling (wheezing is a common sign of asthma in children)

  • Bouts of coughing or wheezing that are worsened by a respiratory virus such as a cold or the flu



  • Mayo Clinic - Asthma

  • Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago

  • American Lung Association in Greater Chicago

  • CommunityHealth Clinic

  • Erie Family Health Center

  • HealthCare Alternative Systems (HAS)

  • Sinai Health System

  • Chicago Asthma Consortium



Information obtained from the Mayo Clinic Asthma webpage

If you would like more information about the work of the Asthma Task Force, or to join, please contact the task force chair, Maureen Damitz:


Illinois Tobacco Quitline

The Illinois Tobacco Quitline is a partnership between the Illinois Department of Public Health and the American Lung Association of Illinois.  They offer a variety of resources and support to help smokers quit.



One such resource is finding smoking cessation classes in your area.  You can do so by clicking the following:


Asthma First Aid (Asma Primero Auxilios)

From the Chicago Asthma Consortium website





Asthma Reports

Use of Lay Health Educators to Improve Asthma Management Among African American Children

This article describes the finding of a pilot project designed to impact of Lay Health Educators (LHE) in reducing asthma morbidity and improving the quality of life for inner-city African American children with poorly controlled asthma. Two Lay Educators were trained as a part of the study and did home visits to study participants 3-4 times over 6 months. The LHEs' gave individualized asthma education to every family. Participants who completed all sessions were found to have less frequent visits to the emergency room, improved quality of life, improved use of asthma medication and had fewer asthma triggers in the home.


Asthma Survey

Through the support of a grant from Northwestern University’s Community-Based Participatory Research Project, the Asthma Task Force has developed and implemented a survey to assess real asthma levels in 2 Humboldt Park Schools.  The survey also seeks to understand community perceptions and beliefs around asthma.  This work will hopefully lead to the hiring of several Community Health Educators, who will work with affected families to help them better understand and control asthma.