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  • Researchers Awarded Federal Grant to Study Link Between Childhood Asthma, Sleep and School Performance

  • Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center and Hasbro Children’s Hospital researchers have received more than $2.5 million in direct costs from The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to study the impact of asthma on the sleep quality and academic performance of young children.

    Daphne Koinis-MitchellThe five-year grant will allow pediatric researchers, led by Daphne Koinis-Mitchell, PhD, to evaluate the connection between asthma and allergic rhinitis symptoms (such as sneezing, congestion or a runny nose), sleep quality, and school functioning in urban, elementary school children between the ages of 7 and 9. Working in collaboration with school districts in the greater Providence area, the investigators will also look at how family and cultural risks, such as family management of asthma and allergic rhinitis and asthma-related fear, may contribute to these associations.

    “We know that asthma can affect how children perform in school. However, studies have not specifically shown how asthma and allergic rhinitis symptoms influence school functioning,” said Koinis-Mitchell, a child psychologist with the Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center. “We propose that asthma-related sleep interruptions and/or frequent school absences due to asthma symptoms may make a difference in how well these children do in school.”

    As part of this longitudinal study, researchers will monitor children’s sleep quality, nasal peak flow (to capture changes in rhinitis symptoms) and lung function (to document changes in asthma symptoms) for one month, three times a year. They also will collect academic performance indicators from the children’s schools, based on reports from teachers and school nurses, over the course of the year.

    “We’re excited to work with schools here in Providence to try and better explain the relationship between persistent asthma and academic achievement,” said Koinis-Mitchell, who is also an assistant professor of psychiatry (research) at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asthma has now become the most common pediatric chronic illness in the United States, affecting an estimated 4.8 million children. It is also the leading cause of school absences due to chronic illness among children ages 5 to 17, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports.

    Study co-investigators include Robert Klein, MD, of Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Alpert Medical School; Gregory K. Fritz, MD; Elizabeth McQuaid, PhD; Ronald Seifer, PhD; Jack Nassau, PhD; and Julie Boergers, PhD, all of the Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center and Alpert Medical School; and Monique Lebourgeois, PhD, of Brown University.