National Center Quick-Look

Asthma Deaths

Collect: The National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention collects information about children who died due to asthma in the National Fatality Review-Case Reporting System (NFR-CRS)

Data: Deaths of children due to asthma in the U.S. are rare with approximately 155 deaths/year. But because so many of these deaths are preventable, fatality review data provide a unique perspective to better understand these deaths’ circumstances. From 2005-2017, fatality teams reviewed deaths of 744 children ages 0-17 who died due to asthma.2

Learn:  To see other Quick- Looks using NFR-CRS data and learn more, visit the National Center’s website at


55% Non-Hispanic Black
25% Non-Hispanic White
16% Hispanic
4% Other

Age and Sex
0-4 years old:

12% Male
8% Female
20% Total 0 – 4 years old

5-9 years old:

18% Male
11% Female
29% Total 5 – 9 years old

10-13 years old:

18% Male
11% Female
29% Total 10 – 13 years old

14-17 years old:

12% Male
10% Female
22% Total 14 – 17 years old

Incident and Investigation


73% of asthma deaths occurred in the child’s home


60% occurred in urban areas; 26% in suburban areas; 14% in rural areas

Time of day

42% of deaths occurred during the night (9pm- 5am) with the peak time of incident at 11pm


70% of asthma deaths had an autopsy performed

Medical Care for Asthma

2% of children who died due to asthma had not been diagnosed prior to their death

91% of children were receiving health care for asthma 96% of children had health care plans in place for asthma

29% of children/families were not able to follow prescribed health care plans for asthma

  • Medication adherence (70%) and missed appointments (55%) were the most common treatment components not completed
  • The age group with the most difficulty following prescribed treatment plans was children ages 10-13 (39%) followed by children ages 5-9 (25%)

Health Disparities

National Center’s Structural Inequity Statement: Some families lose infants, children and adolescents to the types of deaths reviewed by fatality review teams not as a result of the actions or behaviors of those who died, or their parents or caregivers. Social factors such as where they live, how much money or education they have and how they are treated because of their racial or ethnic backgrounds can also contribute to a child’s death. Segregation impacts access to high-quality education, employment opportunities, healthy foods and healthcare. Combined, the economic injustices associated with residential, educational, and occupational segregation have lasting health impacts that include adverse birth outcomes, infant mortality, high rates of homicide and gun violence and increased motor vehicle deaths.

The burden of asthma is not shared equally. Non-Hispanic (NH) black children are disproportionately affected. Although NH black comprise 14% of the U.S. child population, NH black accounted for 55% of asthma deaths reviewed by fatality review teams

Received Health Care for Asthma:

NH black received health care for asthma similarly when compared to other race groups
91% NH Black
87% NH White
93% Hispanic
96% Other Race

Not Able to Follow Treatment Plans:

About one-third of NH black children/families were unable to follow prescribed treatment plans for asthma which was a similar proportion to NH white children/families but a higher proportion when compared to Hispanic and other race groups

32% NH Black
29% NH White
20% Hispanic
23% Other Race

Reside in Urban Areas:

Over two-thirds of NH black who died from asthma lived in urban areas which was a higher proportion when compared to other race groups

70% NH Black
38% NH White
55% Hispanic
48% Other Race

Research is needed to better understand why the proportion of NH black children who die from asthma is higher than other race groups

Prevention Resources

National Asthma Control Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Resources and Information, American Lung Association

Walkthrough Programs, Wisconsin Asthma Coalition

National Center for Fatality Review & Prevention
Supporting Fetal and Infant Mortality Review and Child Death Review Teams

There are many ways to stay in touch with the National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention:

Phone:  800.656.2434

This quick look was made possible in part by Cooperative Agreement Numbers UG7MC28482 and UG7MC31831 from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) as part of an award totaling $1,099,997 annually with 0 percent financed with non-governmental sources. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Vital Statistics.  Underlying Cause of Death 2010-2019 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released 2020.  Accessed on Jan 11, 2021.

2These deaths have been reviewed and recorded into the NFR-CRS by participating fatality review teams. Some percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

These data represent a smaller percent of the cases entered into the NFR-CRS. For more information about the data contained in this Quick-Look, please visit

March 2021