Association of asthma severity and educational attainment at age 6-7 years in a birth cohort: population-based record-linkage study.

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There is conflicting research about the association between asthma and poor educational attainment that may be due to asthma definitions. Our study creates seven categories of current chronic and acute asthma to investigate if there is an association for poorer educational attainment at age 6-7 years, and the role of respiratory infections and school absence.This study used a population-based electronic cross-sectional birth cohort 1998-2005, in Wales, UK, using health and education administrative datasets. Current asthma or wheeze categories were developed using clinical management guidelines in general practice (GP) data, acute asthma was inpatient hospital admissions and respiratory infections were the count of GP visits, from birth to age 6-7 years. We used multilevel logistic regression grouped by schools to ascertain if asthma or wheeze was associated with not attaining the expected level in teacher assessment at Key Stage 1 (KS1) adjusting for sociodemographics, perinatal, other respiratory illness and school characteristics. We tested if absence from school was a mediator in this relationship using the difference method.There were 85 906 children in this population representative cohort with 7-year follow-up. In adjusted multilevel logistic regression, only asthma inpatient hospital admission was associated with increased risk for not attaining the expected level at KS1 (adjusted OR 1.14 95% CI (1.02 to 1.27)). Lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) GP contacts remained an independent predictor for not attaining the expected level of education. Absence from school was a potential mediator of the association between hospital admission and educational attainment.Clinicians and educators need to be aware that children who have inpatient hospital admissions for asthma or wheeze, or repeated LRTI, may require additional educational support for their educational outcomes.

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