Nocturnal asthma in children affects school attendance, school performance, and parents' work attendance

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2000 Sep;154(9):923-8. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.154.9.923.


Context: Asthma symptoms that occur at night may signal worse asthma control, but the nighttime occurrence may have additional clinical significance. To date, however, there have been few studies of the impact of nocturnal awakening from asthma on children with the disease, including problems with daytime functioning.

Objective: To determine if school absenteeism and school performance in children and work absenteeism in their parents are associated with nocturnal awakenings from asthma.

Design: Cross-sectional survey during the winter of 1997 through 1998.

Setting: Three managed care organizations in the United States.

Participants: Parents of 438 children with asthma, aged 5 to 17 years, who were enrolled in managed care organizations.

Intervention: None.

Main outcome measures: Parent's reports of number of days their child missed school and parent missed work and how often the child's education suffered because of asthma in the past 4 weeks.

Results: Overall, more than 40% of children had nocturnal awakenings from asthma in the past 4 weeks. Multivariate analyses were performed that adjusted for child age, race, overall symptom severity, and use of reliever medications. Compared with children who did not awaken from asthma, there were greater odds of missed school days in children who awakened 1 to 3 nights (odds ratio [OR], 3.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.1-6.2), 4 to 7 nights (OR, 4.4; 95% CI, 2.0-10.0), and more than 7 nights (OR, 14.7; 95% CI, 5.9-37.0). Similarly, there were greater odds of education suffering in children who awakened 1 to 3 nights (OR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.4-3.7), 4 to 7 nights (OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 0.9-4.6), and more than 7 nights (OR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1. 0-5.4), and parents missing work in children who awakened 1 to 3 nights (OR, 4.0; 95% CI, 2.2-7.1), 4 to 7 nights (OR, 6.5; 95% CI, 2.7-16), and more than 7 nights (OR, 3.2; 95% CI, 1.3-7.9). Greater overall symptom severity and high use of reliever mediation were also associated with missed school, education suffering, and parent absenteeism.

Conclusions: Nighttime awakenings in children with asthma may affect school attendance and performance, as well as work attendance by parents. Nighttime symptoms have independent prognostic value, even when overall asthma symptom severity is accounted for. By addressing whether there are nighttime awakenings in children with asthma, clinicians may be able to tailor the therapeutic regimen to counter these symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism*
  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / complications*
  • Asthma / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Managed Care Programs
  • Midwestern United States
  • Northwestern United States
  • Parents*
  • Prognosis
  • Schools*
  • Sleep*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Work*