Children with asthma are more likely to struggle academically when their symptoms are not adequately controlled, according to research in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Among students with poorly controlled asthma, minority students are more likely to fall behind in school than white students.

Researchers investigated the co-occurrence of asthma, allergic rhinitis, quality of sleep, and academic functioning in children with asthma and healthy controls across 1 academic year. Participants included 182 Latino students, 132 black students, and 81 non-Latino white students aged 7 to 9 years from large urban school districts in a Northeast US city.

Associations were found between asthma indicators – lung function, asthma control, and asthma symptoms – and diminished academic performance. These associations were stronger in minority students, Latino children in particular.

Although each asthma indicator related to academic outcomes such as school absences and lower test scores, asthma control was the indicator linked to the most academic outcomes.

“Results suggest that asthma status can exacerbate ethnicity-based disparities in academic outcomes in urban minority children with asthma,” the researchers wrote. “Latino children with asthma appear to have the highest risk for poor academic performance.”

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Prior research by the same group of investigators demonstrated that urban Latino children face unique cultural stressors such as acculturative stress that may put them at risk for a decline in academic performance. The researchers concluded that future work “should identify contributing factors to poor school performance among specific groups of children with asthma, as these stressors and poor sleep may be areas to target in future interventions.”

Reference

Koinis-Mitchell D, Kopel SJ, Farrow ML, McQuaid EL, Nassau JH. Asthma and academic performance in urban children [published online March 11, 2019]. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anai.2019.02.030