The findings of this continuing study, which so far includes 170 parent and child groups, were presented at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society in May 2013.
By examining symptom diaries, speaking to teachers and measuring air flow rates of the kids with asthma, researchers found that children with poorly controlled asthma produced lower-quality schoolwork when compared to kids with better asthma control. The more severe the symptoms, the more negatively the school work was affected.
The poorly controlled children were also found to be more careless with school work, which the researchers associated with poorer sleep quality because of asthma flare-ups at night. Teacher reports of students struggling to stay awake during class were tied to difficulty falling asleep at bedtime – the kids who could fall asleep quickly tended to be more alert in class, which led in turn to higher quality school work.
These results suggest that asthma symptoms can have an impact on both sleep quality and school performance in children. Researchers hope these results will contribute to family- and school-based initiatives to help improve asthma control, sleep quality and school performance in kids with asthma living in urban areas.