Data from the 1988 US National Health Interview Survey on Child Health, a nationally representative cross-sectional survey, were used to determine national estimates of school outcomes (grade failure, learning disabilities, and suspension/expulsion) and mean number of absences for children with asthma (CWA) compared to well children without current health conditions. Families indicated that 536 (4.9%) of the 10 362 survey children in grades 1 through 12 had had asthma in the previous 12 months. Families reported 18% of CWA vs 15% of well children had grade failure, 9% of CWA vs 5% of well children had learning disabilities, and 5% of CWA vs 6% of well children had been expelled or suspended. Children with asthma averaged 7.6 school days absent compared with 2.5 days for the well group. Multiple logistic regression was used to compare the odds of grade failure, learning disabilities, and suspension/expulsion among CWA and well children, overall and stratified by income. Similar methods were used to assess the role of health status among asthmatic children. After adjustment for demographic factors, CWA had similar risks of grade failure and suspension/expulsion, but 1.7 times the risk of learning disability compared with well children. Also, among families with incomes below $20 000, CWA had twice the odds of grade failure compared with well children. For asthmatic children, reported health status was an important predictor of learning disability. Ten percent of CWA were reported to be in fair-poor health. After adjustment for demographic factors, those in fair-poor health were twice as likely to have a reported learning disability compared with those in good-excellent health. These national data suggest a modestly increased risk of academic problems among children with asthma compared with well children.
- Received May 28, 1991.
- Accepted May 14, 1992.
- Copyright © 1992 by the American Academy of Pediatrics