Uncontrolled asthma common in school students: survey

High rates of asthma are reported by Australian school students, among whom around two thirds have poorly controlled or uncontrolled disease.

Almost 14% of students aged 10-14 years said they had current asthma, in a survey of 9663 students at 103 Melbourne schools between 2011 to 2014.

The findings, published in Archives of Diseases in Childhood, showed that more than a third of the children (34.8%) who reported current asthma were categorised as having uncontrolled asthma based on their responses to questions about severity of wheeze symptoms, shortness of breath, night awakening and asthma-related limitation on activity.

And almost a third of children (30.2%) had poorly controlled asthma, according to data obtained as part of the SchoolNuts study carried out by researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne.

Responses to questionnaires showed that more boys than girls reported current asthma (15.4% vs 12.5%), and rates were higher among Australian-born students compared to those born in Asia (14.8% vs 5.9%).

Asthma was more commonly reported by younger male students, with rates of 17% in early mid puberty compared to 10.2% in lat post puberty. IN females the opposite was seen, with asthma reported by 9.9% and 13.7% respectively.

The study investigators said the findings showed the prevalence of asthma in Australian continued to be among the highest in the world, and highlighted the need “for targeting resources and intervention aimed at addressing poor asthma control in Australian adolescents.”

“These may include increased utilisation of school-based peer-led adolescent asthma self-management education programmes or development of self-management applications for smartphones for monitoring of symptoms and adherence to treatment,” they suggested.

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