Disclosures: Schyllert reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
June 30, 2021
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Study links asthma in childhood with negative long-term effects on socioeconomic status

Disclosures: Schyllert reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
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In a new study, childhood-onset asthma was associated with a low educational level in young adulthood, researchers reported in Respiratory Medicine.

“There are limited and conflicting results on how asthma in childhood affects socioeconomic status in adult age,” Christian Schyllert, researcher in the department of public health and clinical medicine in the section of sustainable health in the OLIN unit at Umeå University, Sweden, and colleagues wrote in Respiratory Medicine. ... “The aim of this population-based, prospective study is thus to investigate whether asthma with onset in childhood and adolescence is associated with socioeconomic status based on level of education and occupation among young adults.”

Asthma child
Source: Adobe Stock.

The study included 2,017 participants from the Obstructive Lung Disease in Northern Sweden studies. All participants were enrolled in childhood and followed annually until age 19 and 28 years, when socioeconomic status data including educational level, occupation and occupational exposure to gas, dust and/or fumes were collected. Asthma was categorized as childhood onset (up to age 12 years) or adolescent onset (aged 12 to 19 years).

Nearly 13% of participants had childhood or adolescent asthma (7.8% childhood-onset asthma, 5% adolescent-onset asthma).

In half of the participants, compulsory school or upper secondary school was the highest level of education attained. Women were more likely than men to reach a higher educational level.

Childhood-onset asthma was associated with compulsory school as the highest educational level at age 28, after adjustment for factors including BMI, sex and smoking at age 19 as well as socioeconomic factors during childhood (OR = 4,84; 95% CI, 2.01-11.65), according to the results. This association was the female among men and woman at age 28.

Participants with childhood-onset asthma more commonly worked in manual labor jobs (OR = 0.93; 95% CI, 0.56-1.55) than administrative or managerial positions, whereas those with adolescent-onset asthma more commonly worked in higher education administrative and managerial jobs (OR = 0.48; 95% CI, 0.19-1.22) and not manual labor jobs.

The researchers found no association between childhood- or adolescent-onset asthma and socioeconomic groups, occupational groups or occupational exposure to gas, dust and/or fumes at age 28, according to the results.

“Even though asthma is a well-known disease, the potential detrimental long-term effects of childhood asthma on socioeconomic status, particularly level of education, should not be underestimated,” the researchers wrote.