School-age children with asthma who receive education on managing the condition may have fewer attacks, emergency room visits and hospitalizations than those who don’t get such classes, a recent study suggests.
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in childhood. Severe asthma attacks and breathing problems are associated with an increased risk of health problems like obesity as well as academic challenges like chronic absences from school and cognitive impairments that can lead to lower grades and test scores.
For the current study, researchers analyzed data from 33 prior studies that tested how well school-based asthma management programs help kids to avoid severe symptoms that can take a toll on their health and school performance.
All of these smaller studies included children with asthma from 5 to 18 years old, and randomly assigned some kids to get asthma education while others went without this instruction.
With the school-based asthma interventions, students were 30 percent less likely to visit the emergency room, suggesting they had fewer severe asthma attacks, researchers report in the journal Thorax.
“For children who cannot easily access healthcare providers, schools may be a particularly effective route for the delivery of self-management education,” said lead study author Dylan Kneale of University College London in the UK.
“Among children who may otherwise have low levels of contact with healthcare providers, interventions provided in schools may provide something of a safety-net for recognizing the symptoms of asthma, the delivery of medication, and the teaching of self-management skills,” Kneale said by email.
Compared to children who didn’t get asthma-management training in school, those who did also appeared to have fewer hospitalizations and fewer days when their symptoms were so severe that they had to cut back on activities.
The study didn’t find a connection between the school-based asthma programs and absenteeism, however.