Asthma Watch

APRIL 01, 2009

School Absences and Asthma Challenged

A new study reported in the February 2009 issue of Chest suggested that kids with asthma may not miss as much school as previously thought.

The study of 19 inner-city Dallas, Texas, schools found that fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders with the lung condition had no more absences, compared with their peers without asthma.

“This study shows that school-aged children with asthma may not suffer unduly from absences, if their asthma is well-controlled,” explained lead researcher Mark W. Millard, MD.

He noted that the children in the Dallas schools have benefited from proactive actions to help control the problem.

Almost all of the schools have a full-time registered nurse who develops an asthma management plan for each student with the condition. Nurses also complete continuing education on proper asthma care and can refer students who are not on the appropriate medication to clinics for follow-up.

Housecleaning May Aggravate Asthma

Women with asthma may want to think twice about doing household chores. A new study found that house cleaning may trigger a spike in breathing problems, according to a study reported in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (January 2009).

The 12-week study compared the health effects of household cleaning among 25 women with asthma and 19 women without the breathing condition who reported that they are the primary cleaners in their homes. After cleaning, the researchers saw a statistically significant rise in the number of respiratory symptoms in women with asthma, compared with the nonasthma group.

The researchers suggested that physicians caution women about the potential respiratory health effects of cleaning chores and exposure to cleaning agents.

School Involvement Helps Asthma

School-based supervised asthma therapy can improve adherence with daily asthma controller medications among children with asthma. The study included 290 children from 36 schools who were randomized to receive school-based, supervised therapy or usual care.

The researchers defined poor asthma control as 1 of the following: (1) missed school due to asthma or respiratory illness, (2) average use of rescue asthma medication >2 times per week, or (3) at least 1 red or yellow reading on a peak flow meter. The researchers observed no change in asthma control among the usual care group during the 15-month follow-up period.

The findings were positive among the supervised asthma therapy group, however. The likelihood of poor asthma control was 57% higher prior to the study, compared with the follow-up period. The study was reported in the February 2009 issue of Pediatrics.

St. Louis, MO, Tops Asthma Capitals

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has released its annual Asthma Capitals of the United States ranking of the 100 most challenging places to live with asthma. This ranking was determined based on an analysis and scoring of 12 factors in 3 areas—prevalence, risk, and medical factors.

The top 10 Asthma Capitals are:

  1. St. Louis, Missouri
  2. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  3. Birmingham, Alabama
  4. Chattanooga, Tennessee
  5. Charlotte, North Carolina
  6. Memphis, Tennessee
  7. Knoxville, Tennessee
  8. McAllen, Texas
  9. Atlanta, Georgia
  10. Little Rock, Arkansas

Ranked ninth in 2008, St. Louis moved into the top position in part due to worse than average scores in crude death rate due to asthma, higher than average pollen counts over the previous year, and lack of 100% smoke-free laws.

Breathing Exercises Improve Quality of Life

Reporting in a recent issue of Thorax, Scottish researchers found that asthma breathing exercises do not reduce the need for inhalers, but they do improve quality of life. The study involved nearly 200 adults being treated for mild-to-moderate severe asthma.

For the study, 94 patients did 3 sessions of breathing exercise training provided by a physiotherapist. The remaining patients received information and advice about their disease. The investigators found that, after 1 month, both groups showed improvements in quality of life. Six months later, the patients in the breathing exercise group were considerably less anxious and depressed, and tended to control their asthma better, compared with the control group.

F A S T   F A C T: Every day in America 30,000 people have an asthma attack.