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Asthma, wheezing, and school absence in primary schools.
  1. R A Hill,
  2. P J Standen,
  3. A E Tattersfield
  1. Respiratory Medicine Unit, City Hospital, Nottingham.


    The prevalence of wheezing, 'asthma', treatment for 'asthma', and school absence as a result of wheezing in Nottingham was calculated from a questionnaire survey of parents of 4750 children in a random sample of primary schools. A response was achieved for 3805 (80%) children of whom 438 (11.5%) had had episodes of wheezing in the last year and 224 (5.9%) had been diagnosed as having asthma. Asthma treatment had been prescribed for 251 (6.6%) of all children, two thirds of all the children receiving drugs. Two hundred and sixty five (7%) children had lost time from school because of wheezing (median loss of seven days). Of the 64 children losing more than 10 days, 45 (70%) were not taking any drugs, or taking only beta agonists. The prevalence of wheezing found by this survey was comparable with that in similarly designed surveys, though the proportion of children diagnosed as having asthma was higher. Though doctors may now diagnose asthma more readily wheezing still remains an important cause of school absence and still seems to be undertreated.

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