Asthma Impact on Children Differs by Country


When it comes to asthma, children in Canada experience a more significant negative impact than do children in many other countries. This is the finding of research presented at CHEST 2010, the 76th meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians.

Asthma impacts children differently depending on where they live

To arrive at this conclusion, researchers from several countries worked together to conduct interviews with parents of children who have asthma. William Carroll, MD, of Derbyshrie Children’s Hospital, United Kingdom, and colleagues from Switzerland and The Netherlands spoke with 228 parents from Canada who had at least one child aged 4 to 15 years with diagnosed asthma, and also spoke with 159 Canadian children with asthma. Some face-to-face interviews were also completed.

Interviews with parents and children from Greece, Hungary, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and South Africa were also conducted. When the results were evaluated, the investigators found that Canadian children, compared with their peers in other countries, were much more likely to consider asthma a barrier to participating in sports (54.1% vs 35.2%, respectively).


On an emotional level, Canadian children were more likely than other children with asthma to feel sad (18.2% vs 12.1%) and to feel left out (13.2% vs 8.4%). Overall, more Canadian children reported that they felt different from their peers because of their asthma: while 51.4 percent of children from other countries said they felt “no different,” only 31.5 percent of Canadian children reported feeling that way.

These findings are important because, as Carroll points out, “there has been recent research showing that all children with chronic disease are at increased risk of bullying and social exclusion.” In fact, recent studies also show that bullying in schools and cyberbullying are growing problems. The recent case of a seven-year-old girl with Huntington’s disease who was the victim of bullying is just one of many situations involving children who are relentlessly taunted, in some cases to the point of suicide.

A comparison of parents’ feelings about their children’s asthma among the different countries revealed that Dutch parents are the least concerned about using steroid-based drugs for their children and are the most likely to use these medications. Parents in the United Kingdom are the least likely to say that asthma limits their child’s daily activities, while Greek parents are the most likely to make changes around the house to help control the risk of exposure to allergens.

When evaluating the impact of asthma on children from different countries, Carroll notes that globally, 10 percent of children with asthma believe they have been the victim of bullying because of their medical condition. To help change this scenario, Carroll says that “Better social integration and sports participation can only be achieved by educating teachers, classmates, parents, and coaches.”

CHEST 2010, 76th Annual Meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians