Children’s schoolwork and sleep affected by asthma
An estimated 7.1 million children, younger than age 18, suffer from asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A recent study conducted by the American Thoracic Society found that if not properly managed, asthma can negatively affect the sleep quality and academic performance of urban school age children.
“In our sample of urban school schoolchildren (aged 7 to 9), we found that compromised lung function corresponded with poor sleep efficiency and impaired academic performance,” said principal investigator Daphne Koinis-Mitchell in a statement.
Results of the study were announced at the American Thoracic Society’s 2013 International Conference in late May
Participants in the study included 170 urban parent-child pairs from African-American, Latino and non-Latino white backgrounds who live in Greater Providence, RI.
Over three 30-day monitoring periods during the school year, asthma symptoms were assessed by spirometry, which measures the amount and speed of exhaled air, and through diaries maintained by children participants and their parents.
Sleep quality was assessed with actigraphy, which measures motor activity that can be used to estimate sleep parameters. Asthma control was assessed with the Asthma Control Test, a brief questionnaire used to measure asthma control in children. Academic functioning was assessed by teacher report during the same monitoring periods.
According to teacher reports, children with poorly controlled asthma had lower quality schoolwork and were more careless with it compared with children who had well-controlled asthma. Poorer sleep quality was also associated with careless schoolwork, and the longer it takes for children to fall asleep was associated with more difficulty in staying awake in class.
“Family-level interventions aimed at asthma control and improving sleep quality may help to improve academic performance in this vulnerable population,” said Koinis-Mitchell, associate professor of Pediatrics (Research) at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School in Providence.
“In addition, school-level interventions can involve identifying children with asthma who miss school often, appear sleepy and inattentive during class, or who have difficulty with schoolwork,” added Koinis-Mitchell.
“Working collaboratively with the school system as well as the child and family may ultimately enhance the child’s asthma control,” she said.
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