One in Six High School Students Reports Asthma

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One in six U.S. high school students reports having asthma, and a third of them note having an asthma episode or attack in the past year.

Those numbers appear in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Data came from anonymous surveys given to more than 13,000 students in grades 9-12 nationwide.

Overall, nearly 19 percent of the students stated that they had ever been told by a doctor or nurse that they had asthma. Slightly fewer -- 16 percent, or about one in six -- noted current asthma.

Of students reporting current asthma, about 38 percent said they had had an asthma episode or attack in the previous year. Those asthma attacks or episodes were more often reported by girls and younger students (ninth graders). The reasons for that aren't clear, states an editorial note from the CDC.

Hispanic students were less likely than blacks or whites to report current or past asthma. About 15 percent of Hispanic students reported ever having asthma, compared to 21 percent of blacks and 19 percent of whites.

The students' medical records were not checked to confirm their self-reported asthma diagnoses.

Many teachers -- and certainly school nurses -- are familiar with helping children with asthma. Still it's important to take steps to ensure that your child gets adequate attention and that all the relevant people at school are familiar with what is needed to help your child.

The findings underscore the need for health care providers, schools, and families to be prepared to respond to asthma-related emergencies and help students manage their asthma, writes the CDC.

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By Miranda Hitti, reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCES: Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, Aug. 12, 2005; vol 54: pp 765-767. News release, CDC. WebMD Medical Reference provided in collaboration with The Cleveland Clinic: "Managing Your Child's Asthma at School."