Spirometric Findings among School-Aged First Nations Children on a Reserve: A Pilot Study

BACKGROUND: Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are increasing concerns for First Nations peoples in Canada. Although hospital utilization for asthma and COPD among First Nations peoples has been increasing, the prevalence of asthma or wheezing is comparable to national averages.OBJECTIVES: A pilot study was conducted to determine the prevalence of impaired lung function in school-aged First Nations children.PATIENTS AND METHODS: A First Nations community in northern Alberta was selected to participate. Consent forms and a school health survey were completed by parents or guardians. Children with consent completed spirometry at school, and results were compared with predicted values.RESULTS: A total of 36 children participated (response rate 70.6%). Of these, 19.4% of parents reported that their child had received a physician diagnosis of asthma at some point in their life; only 28.6% had a parental report of still having asthma. Parents smoked in 73.1% of the children's homes. The mean (± SD) percentage of forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) over forced vital capacity (FVC) was 82.6%±6.9% (94.4%±0.08% of predicted). Evidence of airflow obstruction was found in 25% of the children. Parental report of the child ever having asthma was associated with impaired lung function (OR 3.20; P=0.033). Children in a home with reported mold exposure were less likely to have impaired lung function (OR 0.68; P=0.030).CONCLUSIONS: Many children in this study already have established airflow obstruction and may be at increased risk for asthma or COPD. Exposure to mold appeared to be protective. Further research is needed to evaluate the lung health concerns of this population.
Don D Sin, Heather M Sharpe, Robert L Cowie, SF Paul Man, and on behalf of the Alberta Strategy to Help Manage Asthma (ASTHMA) Executive Committee, “Spirometric Findings among School-Aged First Nations Children on a Reserve: A Pilot Study,” Canadian Respiratory Journal, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 45-48, 2004. doi:10.1155/2004/427686