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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Educational and health outcomes of children treated for asthma: Scotland-wide record linkage study of 683,716 children

Michael Fleming, Catherine A Fitton, Markus F C Steiner, James S McLay, David Clark, Albert King, Daniel F Mackay, Jill P Pell
European Respiratory Journal 2019 June 13
31196949

BACKGROUND: The global prevalence of childhood asthma is increasing. The condition impacts physical and psychosocial morbidity; therefore wide-ranging effects on health and education outcomes are plausible.

METHODS: Linkage of eight Scotland-wide databases, covering dispensed prescriptions, hospital admissions, maternity records, death certificates, annual pupil census, examinations, school absences/exclusions and unemployment, provided data on 683 716 children attending Scottish schools between 2009 and 2013. We compared schoolchildren on medication for asthma with peers, adjusting for sociodemographic, maternity and comorbidity confounders, and explored effect modifiers and mediators.

RESULTS: The 45 900 (6.0%) children treated for asthma had an increased risk of hospitalisation, particularly within the first year of treatment (IRR 1.98, 95% CI 1.93-2.04), and increased mortality (HR 1.77, 95% CI 1.30-2.40). They were more likely to have special educational need for mental (OR 1.76, 95% CI 1.49-2.08) and physical (OR 2.76, 95% CI 2.57-2.95) health reasons, and performed worse in school exams (OR 1.11, 95% CI 1.06-1.16). Higher absenteeism (IRR 1.25, 95% CI 1.24-1.26) partially explained their poorer attainment.

CONCLUSIONS: Children with treated asthma have poorer education and health outcomes than their peers. Educational interventions that mitigate the adverse effects of absenteeism should be considered.

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