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Children's Health

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Mild or moderate asthma does not significantly impair quality of life for children

Children who have mild to moderate asthma judge their quality of life (QOL) to be generally good, with most saying they are bothered "just a bit" or "hardly at all" by their asthma. However, children who are anxious and those who sometimes must restrict their activities because of their moderate asthma are more likely to have less robust quality of life than other children with mild or moderate asthma. These are the findings of a recent study that was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS09123) and led by Robert D. Annett, Ph.D., of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center.

Dr. Annett and his colleagues analyzed asthma symptom data (based on parent and child daily logs), child-reported health status, and QOL scores from the Pediatric Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire for 339 children (aged 5 to 12 years). The questionnaire asked children to list activities that they were not able to do in the previous week because of their asthma—for example, running, playing with pets, playing at recess, and sleeping. Children also filled out an anxiety scale that asked them if they often had trouble catching their breath, worried a lot, or felt that others did not like the way they did things; a depression inventory; and a behavior checklist. Overall, 63 percent of the children had moderate asthma, and 37 percent had mild asthma.

The children had almost no symptoms in the 2 weeks prior to their annual clinic visit, and parents indicated normal levels of psychosocial competence and no marked rise in behavior problems. QOL scores revealed that most children were bothered "just a bit" or "hardly at all" by asthma in the week prior to their 12-month followup visit. There were no differences between children with mild and moderate asthma in emotional functioning, symptoms, or total QOL scores. However, those with moderate asthma reported more activity limitations than those with mild asthma. Child-reported QOL was not associated with asthma symptoms or parent-reported dimensions of psychosocial competence, but it was strongly correlated with total anxiety score and asthma-related activity restrictions.

See "Predicting children's quality of life in an asthma clinical trial: What do children's reports tell us?" by Dr. Annett, Bruce G. Bender, Ph.D., Jodi Lapidus, Ph.D., and others, in the Journal of Pediatrics 139(6), pp. 854-861, 2001.

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