Hay fever 'affects school work of 750,000 pupils'

More than 750,000 children are under-performing at school every year because they suffer from chronic hay fever, a survey suggested yesterday.

Nearly one in four pupils suffers from hay fever – equivalent to 2.1 million children in the UK, the study by BMRB International found. Of these, more than a third of sufferers, 36 per cent, said their performance at school had been damaged by their allergy.

The study asked more than 600 pupils aged seven to 18 if they had hay fever and how it affected their attendance and performance. Nearly a quarter of children with hay fever, or more than half a million nationally, said their symptoms were so severe that they had to miss lessons and outdoor activities such as sports.

Dr John Guy, principal of the Sixth Form College in Farnborough, Hampshire, said: "Hay fever hits when youngsters are likely to be assessed and when national exams take place and therefore it is of significance. You can see these children suffering in exams."

The survey, run for Herbal Concepts, which makes licensed herbal medicines, also found that many pupils suffered in silence, with 20 per cent not taking any treatment for the allergy.

The plight of pupils who have hay fever has been a factor behind redesigning the English school year into six terms. That would mean holding exams earlier, in April and May, giving some relief to hay fever sufferers.