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Asthma in children up to 12 years of age: results of the PIAMA study

Astma bij kinderen tot 12 jaar : Resultaten van het PIAMA-onderzoek


Almost one in every three toddlers has asthma symptoms. They wheeze or they have shortness of breath or chest tightness or they use inhaled corticosteroids for these complaints. Most children grow out of their symptoms within one or two years. However, in about five percent of all children, the symptoms persist and they still have asthma symptoms at the age of 12. More boys than girls have asthma symptoms and if parents have asthma or allergies, their children have a substantially increased risk. Children with asthma symptoms are more likely to have allergies, eczema or rhinitis as well. These observations were made in the PIAMA study, that followed children from birth until the age of 12. The study is still ongoing and is carried out by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in co-operation with the University of Utrecht, the University Medical Centre in Groningen, the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam and Sanquin Research in Amsterdam. Asthma symptoms are associated with poorer health. Children with asthma symptoms, and especially children who have four or more episodes of wheezing or shortness of breath per year, are in poorer health than other children. They more often stay home because of illness and visit their general practitioner more frequently. Parents worry more about their child's health, they more often have to get up at night for the child, and they more often report pain and discomfort in their child. Also, children with asthma symptoms are less satisfied themselves with their health than other children and more often perceive their health as 'moderate'. Mental health equally good. Nevertheless, children with asthma symptoms are mentally as healthy as other children. Also, they are equally satisfied with their friendships, their looks, their achievements in school and in physical education, and about their leisure time activities. Their school marks are as good as those of other children. Moreover, similar percentages of them are member of a sports club, although 30% of the children with asthma symptoms use asthma medication when engaging in sports.

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