Asthma :: Childhood asthma linked to behavior problems in adolescence

Children who have asthma/bronchitis at five years of age may be at an increased risk of developing certain behavioral problems as teenagers, a recent report shows.

As previous studies have shown an association between lung disease and internalizing behavior problems, researchers analyzed data on 5,135 children who were participants of a larger study called the Mater University Study of Pregnancy.

Internalizing behavior symptoms may include anxiety/depression, withdrawal and physical complaints. Reports from the children’s mothers were used to collect information on asthma/bronchitis in the subjects at the ages of five and 14 years.

Symptoms of internalizing behaviors at these ages were also obtained from the mothers. No association between the prevalence of asthma and externalizing behavior symptoms, such as aggression, was detected.

However, asthma was significantly associated with internalizing behavior symptoms at five and 14 years of age. When children with asthma at age five years were excluded from the analysis, internalizing symptoms at five years of age were not associated with the development of asthma symptoms at 14 years.

However, when five-year-old children with internalizing symptoms were excluded, children with asthma at age five years had a greater likelihood of developing internalizing behavior symptoms at age 14 years. “Children who have asthma/bronchitis by the age of five are at greater risk of having internalizing behavior problems in adolescence,” the researchers concluded.

Complete study findings can be found in the May/June issue of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

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