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IL Research Links Severe Child Asthma and Family Chaos

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Thursday, July 11, 2019   

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The chaos of family life could be detrimental to health outcomes for children with severe asthma, new research shows.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago looked at the connection between parent and child depression, family functioning and child asthma management among urban minority children with uncontrolled asthma.

Lead author Sally Weinstein says her team discovered that in families with greater household chaos, child asthma control tended to be worse.

"This is a measure of family commotion, chaos, organization, routine, noise and disruption, just how things operate in the home,” she explains. “What is the organization, routine and chaos level in their household on a day-to-day basis?"

And Weinstein notes these are not situations where a family is going through severe adversity, but rather struggling to balance the stress of daily life and routines and the demands of caring for a child with asthma.

In the U.S., 8% of children in the have asthma, and they are twice as likely to miss school than other children.

The study surveyed the families of minority urban youths because they have higher rates of asthma and are more likely to have poor outcomes.

And Weinstein says children with uncontrolled asthma suffer extreme symptoms and often require the use of rescue medication.

"Daily demands are necessary to ensure the child's health and wellbeing, but also their ability to engage in activities,” she points out. “Asthma is something that can be controlled but, when it gets more severe in terms of the symptoms, it really can interfere with quality of life and functioning."

Weinstein says the report recommends pediatricians and asthma specialists discuss parental and child depression with families, and offer support to help improve household routines.

"This is not something that providers are necessarily asking about when kids are coming in for asthma visits,” she says. “But really taking the time to talk about how do things work in the household, what needs to be improved in terms of routines and organization could really have a big impact on outcomes."


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