Kids With Asthma Don’t Miss More School
Study Says Children With Asthma Are Not Absent More Often, Contradicting Previous Research
Feb. 5, 2009 -- A new study of students in Dallas inner-city schools shows
that students with asthma do not miss school more than students without asthma.
This marks a change from past studies that have attributed many absences to
For this most recent study, published in Chest, researchers analyzed
absences for children with asthma. The children, who were in fourth, fifth, and
sixth grades, attended 19 schools in the Dallas Independent School District.
Researchers compared the absence rates of children with asthma to fourth-
through sixth-grade absence rates at the 19 schools and to absence rates
All absence rates were between 2% and 3%. The study authors conclude, “In
the DISD, children with asthma do not miss more school days than their peers
The study's authors say there could be several possible explanations for the
results. One is that the overall management of childhood asthma improved
between the last study (done in 1995) and the current study (done in 2003).
This improvement could be attributed to the acceptance of NAEPP (National
Asthma Education and Prevention Program) guidelines by the medical community,
Also, the method by which children were identified as having asthma may have
affected results. Past studies have relied on self-reported asthma and asthma
identified by school nurses. This study screened a large pool of students with
lung function tests, thereby identifying a larger number of students with
asthma. The absence rates of the students with abnormal lung function tests vs.
healthy students in the 19 schools and the entire district were not
Another important note: More than 90% of schools in the Dallas Independent
School District have their own full-time registered nurses. These nurses
prepare asthma management plans for every child known to have asthma and
provide urgent care during school hours for children with symptomatic
As part of the conclusion, the authors argue that school nurse salaries are
money well spent. “Allocation of limited school resources to school nurse
salaries may be more cost-effective and produce better asthma control outcomes
than district-wide efforts at testing for asthma,” they write.