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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Arizona Study Examines Link between Stressful Life Events during Adolescence and Asthma

Although exposure to stressful life events in adolescence has been associated with poor health as measured by number of physicians’ visits and symptom scores, little is known regarding stress in adolescence and either concurrent or subsequent asthma.


[Photo: Dr. Eyal Oren]

Dr. Eyal Oren, assistant professor and infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, and colleagues examined the association between stressful events in adolescence and current symptoms or new active asthma. Their findings are published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

The Tucson Children’s Respiratory Study, a prospective population-based birth cohort, surveyed participants at 10 ages between 6 and 29 years regarding respiratory health. Asthma was defined as a physician-diagnosis of asthma with symptoms during the previous year. At age 16, participants (n = 318) were queried regarding stressful life events using the 67-item Life Events Questionnaire for Adolescents (LEQA). LEQA scores were examined in relation to both concurrent and new active asthma. Estimates were obtained with logistic regression and mixed models.

There was no relation between asthma prevalence at age 16 and LEQA scores in the overall sample, although males with high LEQA scores had higher prevalence of asthma compared with males with low scores. Among adolescents with no asthma through age 16, risk of new asthma was greater for those with high LEQA scores after adjustment for potential confounders including smoking. Emotional support from family and friends slightly diminished the relation of stress to new asthma.

The research suggests that stressful life events during adolescence are associated with subsequent new asthma. Additional biological and psychological measures of stress would complement these findings.

Self-reported Stressful Life Events during Adolescence and Asthma.

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice. November 1, 2016