Background: The goal of the current study was to investigate asthma and mental health among youth in the community, and to consider the role of asthma severity and persistence in this link. Method Data were drawn from the Raine Study, a population-based birth cohort study in Western Australia. Logistic regression models and generalized estimating equations were used to examine the relationship between asthma at age 5 years and the range of internalizing and externalizing mental health problems at ages 5-17 years. Analyses were stratified by asthma severity and persistence, and adjusted for a range of potential confounders.
Results: More severe and persistent asthma at age 5 was associated with significantly increased odds of affective, anxiety, somatic, oppositional defiant and conduct problems at ages 5-17. Mild asthma and remitted asthma were not associated with heightened vulnerability to mental disorders.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that youth with symptomatic asthma are more likely to suffer from a wide range of mental health problems, and that the likelihood of mental health problems appears to increase as a function of asthma severity. Youth with poorly controlled and/or more severe and persistent asthma may be considered a vulnerable group who might benefit from mental health screening in clinical, school and community settings.