School pupils who suffer from hay fever do worse in their end of year exams and may be less likely to go to a top university than classmates who do not suffer from the condition, according to new research.
Rising pollen levels in the summer months, when important school exams are typically scheduled, could push down the marks of hay fever sufferers by as much as 10 per cent and result in them being “unfairly barred” from the best universities, the Norwegian study found.
Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who studied the results of public exams between 2008 and 2011, found that pupils’ performance was consistently lower on days with high pollen counts. Hay fever affects around one in five people.
The study, presented at the European Economic Association conference in Mannheim in Germany, concluded that pupils with hay fever could be missing out on the top grades required to get into the best universities – and subsequently the most sought-after jobs.
“Increases in pollen counts can temporarily reduce cognitive abilities for allergic students, who will score worse relative to their peers on high stake exams, and consequently be at a disadvantage when competing for jobs or higher education,” it said.