Hay fever affects pupils exam results

Last updated at 15:02 02 June 2005

Around one in four students sitting exams this summer will achieve lower than expected grades due to the effects of hay fever, researchers said today.

A study by The National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit at University College Worcester found a "dramatic" link between hay fever and under-performance.

Students suffering from the allergy produced lower scores than anticipated on days with a medium or high pollen count.

They research focused on more than 1,300 students at four universities - Cambridge University, University College Worcester, Napier University in Edinburgh and London Metropolitan University.

Based on the results from all the universities lead researcher Professor Jean Emberlin estimated that a quarter of students across the UK would achieve lower grades due to hay fever.

High pollen count

Students at Cambridge appeared to be the most affected, with the majority (63 per cent) producing lower grades than their average on high or moderately high pollen count days.

The highest achievers also showed the greatest tendency for reduced marks on high pollen count days.

The researchers found that 29 per cent of students taking one of their exams on a high pollen count day had the lowest mark of their exams on this day - around the same proportion as the prevalence of hay fever in this age group.

Students in London were affected even on moderate pollen count days.

The researchers found that 53 per cent had their lowest mark on the day with a medium pollen count.

Prof Emberlin, head of the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit, said: "These findings will have an impact now and in the future on students, universities and parents of hay fever sufferers.

"We know hay fever has high socio-economic costs - either directly through treatment or indirectly through decreased productivity caused by absence, or impaired performance."

Impaired performance

It is thought that 1.8million Britons take time off work due to allergies.

But students still have to take exams during the summer, no matter now severe their hay fever symptoms.

Prof Emberlin added: "The results of this study force us to consider the very real, long-term, social and economic impact on students whose performance during exams is compromised because of their hay fever.".

The study was commissioned by Benadryl Allergy Relief, who have launched a website - www.allergyadvice.co.uk - to provide more information on hay fever.

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