Children with Asthma, Sick Parent Miss More Days of School

Group missed 1.3 more days per year, was less likely to have perceived 'very good' health

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Children with asthma may be absent from school more often if they have a parent with a chronic disease, researchers report in the January issue of Pediatrics.

Ellen A. Lipstein, M.D., of the MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from 561 parent-child pairs from the 2003 National Health Interview Survey. Children were 5 to 17 years old and had no significant medical problems besides asthma. Roughly 40 percent of parents had a chronic disease such as heart disease, arthritis or diabetes.

Asthmatic children with a parent with a chronic disease missed an average of 1.3 more school days per year than other asthmatic children, the investigators found. However, children who had less severe asthma and a parent with a chronic disease didn't have more health care utilization, indicating that parents weren't keeping them home just to seek medical care. Parents with chronic disease were also more likely to report that the child had less than "very good" health, the authors note.

"The combination of parental chronic disease and more severe child asthma may lead to increased perceptions of child vulnerability and alter parents' ability to assess if their child is well enough for school. Alternatively, but less consistent with previous research, parents with chronic disease may more accurately assess their child's health, with other parents inappropriately sending their ill children to school," Lipstein and colleagues write.

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