Domestic Violence, Drug Problems May Increase Asthma Risk In Children


Dysfunction in the home is especially dangerous for children at risk for asthma, according to a recent study.

Researchers found that that children exposed to just one adverse childhood experience had a 28 percent increased chance of developing asthma than those who weren't exposed to dysfunction at home.

For the study, researchers collected and analyzed data from the National Survey of Children's Health. The survey drew from interviews with parents of more than 92,000 children aged 0 to 17 years to explore the relationship between adverse childhood experiences, such as witnessing domestic violence, and the development of asthma.

Thirty-one percent of the children in the sample were exposed to at least one adverse childhood experience -- the most common one being living with a parent or guardian who got divorced or separated.

"What surprised us was that among the children who had been exposed to five or more adverse childhood experiences, 25 percent of parents or guardians reported that their child had an asthma diagnosis -- compared with only 12 percent for those with zero ACE exposures," said Robyn Wing, lead author of the study. "The data showed that the more adverse childhood experiences a child is exposed to, the greater the probability he or she will develop asthma."

In addition to domestic violence, parents were asked if the child lived with anyone who had a problem with alcohol or drugs; if they lived with anyone who was mentally ill, severely depressed or suicidal; if they lived with anyone who served time in jail or prison; if a parent or guardian was divorced or separated; or if a parent or guardian had died. The study also asked about smoke exposure and whether the parents felt safe in their neighborhood.

"We know that young children are susceptible to numerous adverse factors that they may be exposed to in the home environment - including cigarette smoking, indoor triggers, and even, as this study shows, dysfunctional families and associated domestic violence" said allergist James Sublett. "It is even more important that these high risk children are identified and cared for by experts in the management of asthma. Board Certified Allergist/Immunologists have special training in optimizing the care of children with asthma."

The findings are detailed in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

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