Asthma is a chronic disorder characterised by shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and tightness of the chest. It is the most common chronic disorder in childhood. Social environment has long been thought to be an important factor in asthma manifestations in youth.
However, very few studies have empirically tested social factors at the family, peer and neighbourhood levels and their implications for childhood asthma.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia conducted a study to determine whether, and to what extent, social factors influence asthma symptoms and lung function.
They recruited 78 children with asthma and assessed the extent to which youth perceived support from family, support from peers and problems in their neighbourhood, such as crime and violence.
They measured their lung function and assessed their asthma symptoms based on interviews and daily diaries that the subjects kept.
The researchers found a correlation between social environment and asthma symptoms and lung function, reported science portal EurekAlert.
Asthma symptoms were greater among children who reported less family support and lived in worse neighbourhoods. Lung function was also poorer among children who reported less family support.
The results published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine showed that neighbourhood problems and a lack of peer and family support would all relate to greater asthma morbidity.