Asthma and enrollment in special education among urban schoolchildren

Am J Public Health. 2006 Sep;96(9):1593-8. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.075887. Epub 2006 Jul 27.


Objectives: We assessed whether asthma is associated with urban children's use of special education services.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study in 24 randomly selected New York City public elementary schools using a parent-report questionnaire focusing on sociodemographic characteristics, special education enrollment, asthma diagnosis and symptoms, school absences, and use of health care services.

Results: Thirty-four percent of children enrolled in special education had been diagnosed with asthma, compared with 19% of children in the general student population. After control for sociodemographic factors, children with asthma were 60% more likely than children without asthma to be enrolled in special education (odds ratio [OR] = 1.62; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.22, 2.16). Asthmatic children in special education were significantly more likely to be from low-income families and to have been hospitalized in the previous 12 months than asthmatic children in general education.

Conclusions: Inadequate asthma control may contribute to a greater risk of asthmatic children residing in urban areas being placed in special education. School health programs should consider targeting low-income urban children with asthma at risk for enrollment in special education through increased asthma interventions and medical support services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Asthma* / complications
  • Asthma* / epidemiology
  • Asthma* / therapy
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education, Special / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Urban Population