4 October 2000
A report in The Lancet has shown that stressful life events can increase the risk of children's asthma attacks over the subsequent few weeks.
High levels of stress have been shown to predict the onset of asthma in children genetically at risk, and to correlate with a higher frequency and rate of asthma severity.
The study examined whether stressful experiences actually provoked new attacks in children who already had asthma.
The researchers followed a group of 90 children aged 6-13 years with verified chronic asthma for 18 months. The team used diaries and daily peak-flow measurements, together with extensive interviews to monitor asthma in the group.
The investigators found that severely negative experiences in a child’s life, such as the death of a grandparent or the divorce of a child's parents, significantly increased the risk of new asthma attacks over the coming few weeks.
This risk was magnified and brought forward in time if there were several ongoing stressful factors in the child's life, such as poor care at home, poor housing or school problems.
Last Reviewed: 30 May 2002