This research evaluates the co-occurrence of asthma status (lung function and symptoms) and academic performance over the course of the school year in a group of urban, elementary (aged 7-9) school children from African-American, Hispanic, and Non-Hispanic, White backgrounds. We propose that children's sleep quality and school absences are important underlying mechanisms accounting for the association between asthma status and academic functioning. In order to demonstrate asthma's unique impact on children's academic performance, a healthy control group of children without chronic illnesses will be included. To clarify specific pathways of influence between asthma and school performance, factors relevant to asthma, such as allergic rhinitis, as well as risk factors related to the cultural/family context will be examined. Two hundred and fifty-five children with persistent asthma will participate in three assessments of asthma and allergic rhinitis, sleep quality, academic performance, and child and family/cultural risks. One hundred and twenty children who are free from chronic illnesses and allergies will participate in assessments of sleep quality, academic performance, and non-illness specific measures of child and family risk factors.
Poor and ethnic minority children who demonstrate school failure remain the most at risk for school drop out and delinquency. Managing asthma, in addition to negotiating stressors related to social context, remains challenging for elementary school children and families who may already be overburdened. Results gleaned from the proposed research can inform culturally sensitive school-based clinical interventions for urban school- children with asthma whose health outcomes lag far behind their white counterparts.
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