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.