USF College of Public Health alumna and current assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Dr. Chighaf Bakour, examined how sleep duration impacts asthma in Florida high school students and what impact obesity plays in the likelihood of asthma prevalence.
“I was interested in the effects of sleep duration because teenagers today are not getting enough sleep,” she said. “Research shows that sleep durations that are too short or too long increase the risk of many chronic diseases, so I wanted to see if that link is there with asthma too because it hasn’t been looked at before.”
Pulling data from the Florida Youth Risk Behavior Survey’s results for 2009, 2011 and 2013, Dr. Bakour conducted a cross-sectional analysis of more than 16,000 teens and examined their sleep duration patterns, asthma prevalence and body mass indexes.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey, administered by the Florida Departments of Health, is a statewide, school-based confidential survey of high school students to monitor and determine priority health-risk behaviors among adolescents, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Dr. Bakour’s findings, “Sleep duration, obesity, and asthma, in Florida adolescents: analysis of data from the Florida Youth Risk Behavior Survey” is published in the Sleep and Breathing journal.
She found that sleeping for less than seven hours, or more than eight hours, on a school night is associated with an increased prevalence of asthma, particularly for those who are overweight.
“Those who were normal weight did not have an increased risk or odds of having asthma if they had short or long sleep duration,” Dr. Bakour said. “We found out that only those that were overweight were affected.”
When she cross examined the data by body mass index, she found the associations were significant only in overweight adolescents.
According to Bakour, inappropriate sleep duration is known to be associated with increased risk of obesity, therefore sleep interventions may help decrease the risk of persistent asthma in adolescents in addition to improving their weight.
“Asthma is a very prevalent condition and it leads to a significant morbidity and even mortality and high economic costs. When it comes to high school students who have asthma they frequently miss school because of their asthma exacerbation,” Dr. Bakour said.
This is Bakour’s first published manuscript and she said her interest in the topic stems on her personal experience of having two teenage sons with asthma.
She plans to continue her research on this topic, with two additional manuscripts coming soon that follows up on these findings.
“It’s very important to find out what contributed to the asthma epidemic, whether they are factors that cause asthma or triggers that may make it worse,” she said.