Investigating the link between asthma and mental health in children

Themes Mental health Respiratory disease

Workstream Exacerbation prediction and aerosol emissions

Status: This project is ongoing

Asthma is the most common long-term condition among children and young people in the UK, with over one million children currently receiving treatment for it. Asthma continues to be among the top 10 causes of emergency hospital admission among this age group in the UK.

People with asthma often experience anxiety and depression. We don’t fully understand the link between these conditions. We also don’t know if having one condition causes the other to develop.

For example, we don’t know whether having asthma means someone is more likely to experience mental health difficulties. This means we might also not be providing the best treatment to those living with asthma and other co-existing conditions.

Project aims

We want to identify whether there is a link between asthma and mental health disorders. We will do this by using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

ALSPAC is an ongoing study looking at the health of children born to mothers living in a specific part of England in the 90s. The original study has since expanded to include the next generation of children and their families.

We will use the large volume of data available through ALSPAC to explore the links between being diagnosed with asthma as a child and the likelihood of developing anxiety and depression. We will also look at the reverse, i.e. whether having anxiety or depression as a child increases the likelihood of later getting an asthma diagnosis.

What we hope to achieve

Findings from this study could support the development of clinical trials targeting patients with asthma and anxiety/depression. In turn, this could improve how people living with asthma manage their condition, reduce the number of exacerbations they experience and decrease the number of times they admitted into hospital.

This research is part of a PhD project and is being led by Dr George Nava.

It is a collaboration between the respiratory and mental health themes of the Bristol BRC.