New research shows that on top of physical symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing, kids with asthma are also at increased risk of behavioral, emotional, and development problems.
Researchers at the University of Virginia Children's Hospital evaluated data collected in a phone survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Parents of 102,353 kids ranging from birth to 17 years old were asked about their child's health.
According to the study, parents of kids with asthma were twice as likely to report that their child has severe problems with behavior, emotions, concentration, or getting along with others. The study also found that kids with asthma are at increased risk for:
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- behavioral and conduct problems
- learning disabilities
ADHD was twice as common among kids with asthma and three times more common among those with severe asthma. The surveys also revealed that kids with asthma were more likely to miss school, be bullied, and abuse drugs.
And the more severe the asthma, the more severe the behavioral, emotional, and developmental problems. In fact, kids with severe asthma were:
- 13 times more likely than kids without asthma to miss 10 or more days of school each year
- four times more likely than kids without asthma to have depression, anxiety, behavioral and conduct problems, or chronic developmental and behavioral problems
- three times as likely to have to repeat a grade than kids with mild asthma
Higher rates of severe asthma were also reported in kids with socioeconomic disadvantages — including Medicaid patients and kids who lived in households at or below the poverty level.
What This Means to You
The study's researchers stressed the importance of identifying and addressing these behavioral, developmental, and emotional issues as a regular part of a child's asthma treatment program.
Kids with mental health problems may be less likely to comply with their asthma therapy, which could make controlling their symptoms more difficult.
Make sure to talk to your doctor about all of your child's physical symptoms and any emotional or behavioral issues that may have come up. The doctor may refer you to a specialist, if necessary, and can help you create an asthma action plan that's right for your child.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: May 2007
Source: James A. Blackman, MD, MPH; Matthew J. Gurka, PhD. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, April 12, 2007.