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  • By: Montserrat C. Mitchell & Michael C. Roberts
  • In: Encyclopedia of School Psychology
  • Edited by: Steven W. Lee
  • Subject:School/Educational Psychology (general), School Psychology, Educational Psychology

Asthma is the most common childhood chronic illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 1998 that 3.8 million children had at least one asthma attack per year. Asthma is an inflammation of the cells in the bronchial passages, which causes the airways to be hypersensitive to respiratory irritants, such as allergens, exercise, viral infections, and emotional responses (e.g., laughing and crying). When exposed to these irritants, an exaggerated airway response, or “asthma attack,” occurs, resulting in the passages narrowing or becoming obstructed from mucus buildup. During this physiological response, the child has rapid shallow breathing, tightness in the chest, and wheezing or coughing. Although physiologically based, asthma is exacerbated by environmental factors (e.g., air pollution and second-hand smoke) and psychological factors (e.g., ...

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