– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – Children with asthma who live in urban environments suffer academically, according to new research.
Scientists from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) have found that children living in urban areas were absent from school more often than their healthy peers, and also produced poorer quality work when struggling with the condition.
“We found associations between poor asthma status, poorer asthma control, lower lung function, more asthma symptoms, and decline in academic performance,” lead author Dr. Daphne Koinis-Mitchell said.
Past research has shown that children living in cities or towns are more likely to develop asthma due to increased exposure to outdoor pollutants, including ozone and diesel exhaust, and indoor pollutants such as tobacco smoke and nitrogen dioxide.
The new study, published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, indicated that when children’s asthma symptoms increased and lung function was reduced, their academic performance fell.
They also found a link between ethnic background, with young Latino asthma sufferers particularly at increased drops in performance compared to their white classmates, a connection Dr. Koinis-Mitchell believes is down to being poorer on average, as well as other factors like language and lack of access to medical providers.
“Factors such as higher levels of fear of asthma, language barriers, stress related to fitting into the culture, poorer symptom perception, greater concerns regarding medications and lower medication adherence may put Latinos at greater risk for poor academic performance,” she explained.
ACAAI president Todd Mahr noted the findings show more must be done to reach urban kids to ensure they receive the treatment they need so they can get on with their school work.
“Asthma is the most common chronic illness in childhood, accounting for 13.8 million missed school days each year,” he added. “A very low proportion of the children in this study saw specialists such as allergists. Kids with asthma – especially in urban areas – need access to specialty care because anyone with asthma should be able to feel good, be active all day and sleep well at night. No one should accept less.”