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Aggressive Asthma
May 2001

Q. My eight year old son has been treated aggressively for asthma for nearly 3 years. In the last year the asthma has all but subsided except for occasional flare-ups during extremely humid weather and during forest fire season. In the past he has taken proventil inhaler 4-5 times daily, slo-bid 2x daily, singular 1 daily, vanceril ds 2x daily and proventil tabs. This is in addition to antibiotics and steroids by mouth. Is there any known history of learning disabilities and children who have been aggressively treated for asthma. His school attendance was not affected greatly since I am an employee of the school and was able to monitor his breathing and treat him as necessary. He missed approximately 18 days of school. These were spread out quite evenly over the entire school year.

A. Your question is very good. A Medline search revealed there is some data on this issue and not surprisingly it is mixed. One study concluded that there is insufficient evidence to say that Asthma Leeds to learning disability (Ref #1). However, another study showed that those Asthmatic children who were in poor to fair health had about twice the risk of learning disability compared with those Asthmatic children who were in good health. It makes sense to me that if a child with Asthma is well controlled with medication, and is not missing much class, that he/she should do fine. It sounds like you have been doing a very good job at trying to maximize your son's Asthma control and I suspect he will do fine. Hopefully with age, his Asthma may improve. In the interim, much research continues on this increasingly prevalent illness. Also, never taking up smoking is crucial as is avoiding second hand smoke as well. Keep up the good work!

Ref #1) SOURCE: J Learn Disabil 1993 Jan;26(1):23-32 CITATION IDS: PMID: 8418187 UI: 93115594

Ref #2) SOURCE: Pediatrics 1992 Dec;90(6):939-44 CITATION IDS: PMID: 1437438 UI: 93065035

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