OBJECTIVE: To determine the association between asthma and panic attacks among youth in the community. METHOD: Data were drawn from the Methods for the Epidemiology of Child and Adolescent Mental Disorders (MECA) Study (n = 1285), a community-based sample of youth age 9-17 in the United States. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to determine the association between asthma and both panic attacks and panic disorder, adjusting for differences in sociodemographic characteristics and comorbid mental disorders. RESULTS: Asthma was associated with a significantly increased likelihood of panic attacks [OR= 1.5 (1.01, 2.2)]. This effect was specific and persisted after adjusting for differences in demographics and psychiatric comorbidity. Severe asthma was associated with an even greater likelihood of panic attacks [OR = 2.2 (1.3, 4.0)]. There was a dose-response relationship between number of panic symptoms during a panic attack and the likelihood of asthma [OR = 1.2 (1.1, 1.3)] and severe asthma [OR = 1.3 (1.1, 1.4)], which remained significant after adjusting for differences in sociodemographic characteristics and comorbid mental disorders. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest a significant association between asthma, severe asthma, and panic attacks among youth in the community. Replication of these findings is needed, as are future studies that investigate the nature of these links. In light of the increasing prevalence of asthma and hospitalization for asthma among youth in the United States and worldwide, these associations may be worthwhile to consider in future investigations.
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