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Leveraging genetic ancestry to study severe asthma exacerbations in an admixed population
  1. Yadu Gautam,
  2. Tesfaye B Mersha
  1. Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tesfaye B Mersha, Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229, USA; tesfaye.mersha{at}

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Asthma is a major non-communicable health problem in the USA among school age children. About 5%–10% of all people with asthma have severe asthma exacerbations, resulting in disproportionate healthcare costs (eg, emergency hospital visit, hospitalisation) and serving as the primary cause of higher mortality due to asthma.1–3 The burden of asthma varies across racial or ethnic groups in the USA. In particular, Puerto Rican and African American children have a greater prevalence of morbidity and mortality from asthma than non-Hispanic white children in the USA.4 Research shows that much of this racial disparity is likely due to structural racism causing differences in socioeconomic status and other socioenvironmental risk factors.5 In addition, the genetic loci that exhibited ancestry-specific effects could contribute to disease risk substantially.6 Admixed populations, including African Americans and Hispanic Americans (eg, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans), carry the genomes from different ancestral groups, and each ancestral group contributes distinct allele frequency patterns to disease risk. Puerto Rican and Mexican American are the two Hispanic/Latino groups in the USA with ancestries traced to Indigenous American, African and European groups. However, there is a stark difference in the asthma prevalence between the two populations with, ~4.8% of Mexican Americans vs 19.6% of Puerto Ricans having asthma.6 To date, it is not clear why the asthma prevalence varies between these two populations of Hispanic/Latino ethnicity with similar ancestral groups. One could suspect several reasons, including differences in socioenvironmental risk factors, environment-specific and ancestry-specific genetic factors, and their interactions. Detection …

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  • Contributors TBM takes full responsibility for the integrity of editorial.

  • Funding This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants (R01HL132344 and R01HG011411).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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