Childhood Asthma Research Program
Hasbro Children's Hospital

Asthma and Academic Performance in Urban Children: A Study

This research study was conducted by Daphne Koinis-Mitchell, PhD, Sheryl Kopel, MSc, Michael Farrow, MA, Elizabeth McQuaid, PhD, and Jack Nassau, PhD, and published under the title "Asthma and Academic Performance in Urban Children" in the Annals of Allergy, (2019), Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Volume 122, Issue 5.

Urban minority children experience high levels of asthma morbidity. Poor school performance can be an indicator that asthma is in poor control. Little attention has been paid to examining real-time links between asthma and academic performance, particularly in high-risk group.

The objective of the study was to examine:

  1. Academic performance across a range of indicators in a group of urban children with asthma and urban children without chronic illness and ethnic differences in these associations, and 
  2. Associations between asthma and academic performance in the group of urban children with asthma and ethnic differences in these associations.


Two hundred sixteen black/African American (33%), Latino (46%), and non-Latino white (21%) urban children ages 7 to 9 years completed a clinic- and home-based protocol that assessed asthma and allergy status, objective measurements of lung function, and academic functioning.


Analyses revealed that children with asthma experienced a higher number of school absences when compared with healthy controls. Greater disparities in academic outcomes emerged when examining ethnic differences within the groups of children with and without asthma. Poor academic outcomes were observed in Latino children with asthma. Furthermore, a strong correspondence of poor asthma outcomes and decrements in academic performance were seen in the full sample, and these associations emerged across ethnic groups.


Asthma activity contributes to poorer academic outcomes across a range of indicators, and urban minority children with asthma, particularly Latino children, may be at heightened risk for poorer academic performance. School management guidelines for asthma need to be consistently implemented and tailored for school staff, caregivers, and students with asthma to address challenges of managing asthma within the urban school setting.

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