NEW YORK, May 6: A survey of a large, nationally representative sample of U S high school students shows that there are statistically significant associations between violent victimization and asthma episodes.
Of a total of 1,943 asthmatic students attending public or private schools, those who had been victimized in the past year were 45 per cent more likely than those who had not been victimized to report an asthma episode in this period, investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, found. In the May issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
The researchers defined victimization ''as having been threatened or injured with a weapon, such as a gun, knife, or club on school property; having had something, e.g., a car, clothing or books, stolen or deliberately damaged on school property;'' or having an injury that required treatment by a doctor or nurse at least once in the past year.
Drs Monica H Swahn and Robert M. Bossarte report in the American Journal of Public Health that adolescents who reported missing school because they felt unsafe were nearly three times more likely than those who had not felt unsafe to have had an asthma episode in the past year.
''We also found that the association between feeling too unsafe to go to school and asthma episodes pertain to adolescents who live in urban, suburban and rural areas,'' Swahn told Reuters Health.
The findings support previous studies that have linked exposure to violence and asthma illness in children who live in inner cities. ''Most importantly,'' Swahn said, ''our findings add new information that the link between exposure to violence, safety concerns, and asthma episodes are also important for adolescents who live in rural areas.'' The observed associations held up after considering the effects of other factors, such as the gender, race/ethnicity, grade level, smoking status, weight and exercise.
Violent victimization and feeling unsafe are two potential psychosocial stressors and environmental factors that appear to exacerbate asthma, the authors conclude.
Additional research, they say, is needed to pinpoint groups of adolescents who are most vulnerable to these stressors and under which circumstances these stressors may exacerbate asthma.
REUTERS DKS HT0920