Childhood Asthma and Student Performance at School


  • 1

    Howard Taras, MD, Professor (, Division of Community Pediatrics, University of California, San Diego, Gilman Drive #0927, La Jolla, CA 92093-0927; and 2William Potts-Datema, MS, Director, (, Partnerships for Children's Health, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave, 7th Floor, Boston, MA 02115. This article is 1 of 6 articles that are part of a project of the National Coordinating Committee on School Health and Safety (NCCSHS). This NCCSHS project was funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, and US Department of Agriculture. Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily shared by these federal agencies or other institutions that comprise NCCSHS membership.


Abstract: To better understand what is known about the association between childhood asthma, school attendance, and academic outcomes, the authors reviewed published studies investigating this topic. Tables with brief descriptions of each study's research methodology and outcomes are included. Research reveals evidence that rates of absenteeism are higher among students with asthma. The exact magnitude of absenteeism is difficult to ascertain. However, the studies have helped to identify characteristics of children with asthma that are most likely to be associated with the highest absenteeism rates. Some interventions to improve rates of absenteeism among school-aged children with asthma show promise, but it cannot yet be concluded that students who adhere to medical routines for controlling asthma will as a result increase their rates of attendance. Studies thus far have shown that there is either only a weak or nonexistent association between asthma and school achievement. Further studies are required to verify if certain subpopulations of children with asthma (eg, those with severe and ongoing symptoms, those with disturbed sleep, kindergarten children) are at higher risk for poor school achievement. (J Sch Health. 2005;75(8):296-312)