Children with asthma may have more trouble completing tasks and getting along with other children compared with their peers without breathing problems, say researchers from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in New York.
Researchers surveyed the parents of 1,619 inner-city children entering kindergarten about their child's:
- positive peer social skills (ability to make friends easily)
- negative peer social skills (fighting with other children)
- task orientation (ability to concentrate well on tasks)
- shy and anxious behavior
Parents also answered questions about whether their child had ever been diagnosed with asthma, how often he or she experienced asthma symptoms, and how often he or she needed emergency medical care for asthma.
About 15% of the parents reported that their children experienced symptoms of asthma. Overall, children who had asthma symptoms more than twice a week (researchers called this "persistent asthma") tended to have more problems interacting with their peers compared with children with no asthma symptoms or only occasional asthma symptoms. Children who had persistent asthma also struggled to concentrate or complete tasks compared with their nonasthmatic peers. In addition, one in five children with persistent asthma experienced problems in more than one behavioral area, such as having both shy behavior and problems fighting with other children.
What This Means to You. The results from this study of urban children indicate that behavioral problems often exist in young kids with asthma, and that in many cases, children with persistent asthma may struggle in more than one area of behavior. Controlling your child's asthma by following his or her asthma management plan and making sure your child takes the medicines prescribed by the doctor may be the first step toward improving your child's behavior. If your child has trouble making friends, fights with other children, seems shy or anxious, or has trouble concentrating, talk to your child's doctor about the best ways to treat these behavioral problems early in your child's school career.
Source: Jill S. Halterman, MD, MPH; Kelly M. Conn, MPH; Emma Forbes-Jones, PhD; Maria Fagnano, BA; A. Dirk Hightower, PhD; Peter G. Szilagyi, MD, MPH; Pediatrics, February 2006.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: February 2006