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Study Suggests Children With Developmental Disabilities More Likely to Develop Asthma

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What Happened: Children with developmental disabilities are more than twice as likely as other kids to have asthma, according to a new study from public health researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and published in JAMA Network Open. About 16% of children with a disability have asthma. Six percent of children without disabilities have the condition. The relationship between disability and asthma remains unclear.

Both asthma and disabilities in children are important determinants of school absenteeism, with the subsequent risk of educational delays. Asthma, when detected early and managed early, can lessen the impact it has on quality of life and missed school days.” – George Delclos, M.D., M.P.H., study co-author, professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health.

The Frontlines: Here’s what researchers were looking at in this study:

  • A survey of 71,811 families with children age 0-17 asked parents if their child had an asthma diagnosis plus a developmental disorder.
  • For the survey, these developmental disabilities included behavioral disorders, motor disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, cerebral palsy, vision impairment, hearing impairment, speech disabilities, cognitive disabilities or an unspecified developmental delay.
  • Data was collected between 2016–2018 as part of the National Survey of Children’s Health.
  • Among survey participants, children who were hard of hearing or deaf had the greatest likelihood of having asthma, followed by those with cerebral palsy.
  • Today, more than 6 million children in the U.S. are battling asthma. Black males face diagnosis more frequently than female or Whites.

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A Mighty Voice: Our contributor, Wendy Jordan, shared that it isn’t always easy to get an asthma diagnosis when you have a disability or chronic illness. “Sometimes I have presented to the Accident and Emergency department with asthma attacks but been triaged as having panic attacks, left to ‘calm down’ and then found seriously ill.” You can submit your first person story, too.

From Our Community: 

Anyone else with asthma scared of this new corona virus? #Asthma , #Anxiety

Add your voice: 

A banner promoting The Mighty's new Caregivers' Corner group on The Mighty mobile app. The banner reads, Get the support you give. Join the Caregivers' Corner to connect with others who are taking care of someone with a health condition or disability. Click to join Caregivers' Corner.

More helpful thinking: Parents of very young children with asthma should ask physicians to screen for disabilities and delay. Otherwise, a physician should ask parents about a child’s breathing patterns, coughing or wheezing to help identify asthma earlier to improve quality of life. Since it is common for children struggling with asthma to miss school, an early diagnosis may help stem educational delay. An early diagnosis may also lessen economic impacts of the chronic disease.

Other things to know: Looking for more news about children and asthma, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here are some articles about protecting your little one.

Header image via Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images

Originally published: June 17, 2020
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