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article imagePollen can impair performance of school kids

By Tim Sandle     May 12, 2017 in Health
Oslo - Hay fever is an unpleasant allergy, varying in severity. The allergy affects many people as they go about their lives and this includes school children. The extent of the problem has been examined in a new study.
In most parts of the world spring and summer signal; exam time for school pupils. This time of year is a bad one for those who suffer from pollen allergies. The impact of this has recently been investigated by The Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Pollen allergies triggering bouts of sniffling and sneezing during the hay fever season; this is accompanied by itchy, watery eyes and runny noses. In addition, for those who are asthmatic, hay fever exacerbates the condition. The result of this is with pollen allergy sufferers becoming tired; sleepiness and lethargy are also side-effects of the many hay fever medications.
Allergic rhinitis (‘hay fever’) is a form of inflammation in the nose. The condition occurs when the immune system overreacts to allergens in the air. A common trigger is pollen, with different types of pollen affecting people in different ways and at different times of the year. Other triggers include pet hair, dust, or mold. The reasons for hay fever appear to be multifactorial, including genetics and environmental exposures at a young age.
What extent does hay fever have on school performance? This is the research question that Dr. Simon Bensnes has been considering for secondary pupils (children aged 11 and over). His research shows how pollen allergies have a negative effect on the exam results of pupils. This is significant enough to impact on the chance of a student getting to university and the student’s subsequent career paths.
For the research, Dr. Bensnes examined a series of results from end-of-year exams undertaken by pupils between the years 2008-2011. The exam scores were linked with information about the local pollen count on each exam day. The investigation shows how exposure to pollen has a significant impact upon exam performance for pupils with pollen allergies.
What was of interest was the data which showed when the pollen count increased by one standard deviation (equivalent to 20 pollen grains per cubic meter), then the exam grade of the average pupil decreased by 2.5 percent.
Overall the results suggest allergic pupils will most probably get poorer grades on exams relative to others. In terms of actions, perhaps pupils with allergies should be allowed extended exam time, or at least be identified and given appropriate medication, Dr.Bensnes concludes.
The research has been published in the Journal of Health Economics. The research paper is titled “You sneeze, you lose.”
More about Pollen, Hayfever, Pollution, School, Study
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