Pediatric Respiratory and Immunology Center
Hasbro Children's Hospital

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) and Asthma Study

New Study Explores Contributing Factors to Ethnic and Racial Disparities in Urban Children with Asthma and Atopic Dermatitis

Marcella R. Aquino, MD,  an allergist and immunologist in the department of pediatrics, division of allergy and immunology at Rhode Island and its Hasbro Children's Hospital, is leading a two-year study on ethnic and racial disparities in children diagnosed with asthma and atopic dermatitis. 

Dr. Aquino, an associate professor of pediatrics and clinician educator at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, received funding for the study from a new grant program offered by the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) Allergist’s Foundation. Hers is one of six innovative, community-focused projects to develop creative solutions that lead to improvement in allergy care.

The study, titled “Multi-level contributing factors to ethnic and racial disparities in urban children with asthma and atopic dermatitis,” was inspired by Dr. Aquino’s focus on and special interest in allergic skin diseases. In a recent “College Insider, the weekly email of the ACAAI, Dr. Aquino elaborated on her connection to her patients and nearby community. “We have a diverse patient population surrounding the hospital, which inspired me to explore health care disparities in children with atopy. Many of our patients encounter barriers in receiving adequate care, including limited referrals to specialty care (allergy/immunology, dermatology and pulmonary), not having insurance, difficulties in communication due to language and health literacy, and lack of transportation.” 

Dr. Aquino anticipates that this project will help her and other professionals in understanding how children with asthma are further affected by atopic dermatitis and how differences in races and ethnicity may further affect both asthma and atopic dermatitis outcomes. 

The study will examine asthma and eczema outcomes in about 60 children from the Greater Providence area, between 7 to 12 years of age, with equal representation of Caucasian, African American and LatinX descent, and with both asthma and atopic dermatitis.

According to Dr. Aquino, research shows LatinX and African American children have higher morbidity and asthma prevalence compared to their non-Latino White counterparts. Similarly, African American and LatinX children have disproportionate rates of severe and persistent atopic dermatitis than their non-Latino White peers.

Upon completion of the study, Dr. Aquino hopes the results will inform other allergists who deliver healthcare to urban minority children with asthma and atopic dermatitis about specific interventions to improve care for this population.