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Acad Pediatr. 2011 Nov-Dec;11(6):493-9. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2011.05.006. Epub 2011 Aug 3.

Nocturnal asthma symptoms and poor sleep quality among urban school children with asthma.

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Department of Pediatrics and the Strong Children's Research Center, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.



The aim of this study was to describe nocturnal asthma symptoms among urban children with asthma and assess the burden of sleep difficulties between children with varying levels of nocturnal symptoms.


We analyzed baseline data from 287 urban children with persistent asthma (aged 4-10 years) enrolled in the School-Based Asthma Therapy trial; Rochester, New York. Caregivers reported on nocturnal asthma symptoms (number of nights/2 weeks with wheezing or coughing), parent quality of life (Juniper's Pediatric Asthma Caregivers Quality of Life Questionnaire), and sleep quality by using the validated Children's Sleep Habits Questionnaire. We used bivariate and multivariate statistics to compare nocturnal asthma symptoms with sleep quality/quantity and quality of life.


Most children (mean age, 7.5 years) were black (62%); 74% had Medicaid. Forty-one percent of children had intermittent nocturnal asthma symptoms, 23% mild persistent, and 36% moderate to severe. Children's average total sleep quality score was 51 (range, 33-99) which is above the clinically significant cutoff of 41, indicating pervasive sleep disturbances among this population. Sleep scores were worse for children with more nocturnal asthma symptoms compared with those with milder symptoms on total score, as well as several subscales, including night wakings, parasomnias, and sleep disordered breathing (all P < .03). Parents of children with more nocturnal asthma symptoms reported their child having fewer nights with enough sleep in the past week (P = .018) and worse parent quality of life (P < .001).


Nocturnal asthma symptoms are prevalent in this population and are associated with poor sleep quality and worse parent quality of life. These findings have potential implications for understanding the disease burden of pediatric asthma.

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