An analysis of asthma in children conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds modestly improved rates of asthma attacks, along with fewer admissions to hospital and missed school days.
The number of children with asthma experiencing one or more attacks declined from 61.7 percent in 2001 to 53.7 percent by 2016. What’s behind the drop? According to the CDC’s Vital Signs report, a key change is that more children are following an asthma action plan, and being taught to recognize and respond quickly to the symptoms of an asthma attack.
To examine asthma trends, researchers looked at survey data over a 15-year period for children up to age 17 from the National Health Interview Survey.
Other key findings in the report include:
- While the trend shows improvement, half of children with asthma are still experiencing one or more asthma attacks in a year.
- One in 6 children with asthma still visits the ER and about 1 in 20 is admitted to hospital every year.
- Hospital admission for children with asthma dropped more significantly: from about 10 percent in 2003 to 5 percent in 2013.
- Asthma attacks were most common among children aged 4 and under in 2016.
- The asthma rate among children of Mexican heritage ran counter to the trend; it increased from 5.1 percent in 2001 to 6.5 percent in 2016.
The report also reinforces asthma trends that have been highlighted by previous studies, such as that the disease is more prevalent among boys than girls, and more frequent in African-American and Puerto Rican families.
To help manage your child’s condition, develop an action plan, teach them how to manage asthma by using control and rescue medicine, and avoid triggers and irritants when possible.
“Often there are multiple factors, such as allergies, infections, gastroesophageal reflux, or smoke exposure that can contribute to a severe asthma attack in a child,” says Dr. Christine Cho, a pediatric allergist at National Jewish Health. “Seeing a specialist can help optimize asthma management by finding triggers and with avoidance, minimize medication as much as possible. If medication is indicated, close follow up is necessary to monitor for possible side effects.”
Dr. Carah Santos, also a pediatric allergist at National Jewish, advises parents to “know and understand the medication and inhalers” the doctor prescribed to your child. “Some must be taken every day, even when [the child feels] well, in order to prevent attacks, and others are used for quick-relief during times asthma symptoms arise.”
“Discuss with your doctor about how to use these inhalers correctly,” Santos emphasizes.
To read the entire Vital Signs report, see here.