Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Persistent Asthma Associated with Behavior Problems

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Persistent Asthma Associated with Behavior Problems

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Inner-city children with persistent asthma appear to have more problems with negative social skills, anxiety, and shyness than children without asthma, according to data presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies.

"Children with persistent asthma symptoms had significantly more behavior problems across several domains, compared to children with no asthma symptoms," said Jill S. Halterman, M.D., of the University of Rochester in New York.

Dr. Halterman and her colleagues looked at the relationship between asthma and behavior in all kindergarten children in the city of Rochester school district in 2003. At the beginning of that school year, parents of kindergarten children completed a detailed health and development survey assessing the child's background, behavioral functioning, and medical history--with specific questions about asthma symptoms.

Children were included if they were older than 4 years but younger than 6 years at the time of the survey, making a total of 1,619. Black children accounted for 60% of the survey population; Hispanic children accounted for 22%. A majority of the children (59%) received Medicaid insurance.

Asthma status--no asthma, intermittent asthma, or persistent asthma--was determined from parent responses to three questions about asthma symptoms. The criteria for these three categories were based on the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's guidelines for defining asthma severity. Seven percent of the children had intermittent asthma, and 8% had persistent asthma.

Using 12 items on the survey, a child's behavioral functioning was assessed using a 1-4 scale in four areas--positive and negative peer social skills, task orientation, and shyness/anxiety. …

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