Asthmatic children still not breathing easier, study says

Mar 15, 2007

Only 20 percent of children with persistent asthma have a level of control that is optimal, according to a survey-based study published today in the journal of Ambulatory Pediatrics.

"That leaves almost 80 percent who are suffering more than they need to," said the study's lead author, Jill Halterman, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong. "They may be experiencing unnecessary symptoms, missed school days, and restrictions on activity. That's a problem."

Halterman said the survey results are striking because, in contrast, current therapies are very effective. In fact, according to reports issued by the National Institutes of Health, if used consistently and in conjunction with action plans and avoidance of environmental triggers, the therapies should ideally make it possible for children to experience no symptoms of asthma, no limitation in function and no serious exacerbations.

"That's a lofty goal to dangle before patients," Halterman said. "We wanted a closer look into why so many children weren't reaping the benefits of today's therapeutic advances."

Current guidelines recommend that all children with persistent asthma – half of the 9.4 percent of children who have any form of asthma – are prescribed daily anti-inflammatory medication. In spite of this, the most recent study revealed that 37 percent received no preventive medication, and perhaps more shockingly, 43 percent did receive medications, yet they were still troubled by poor symptom control (experiencing either persistent symptoms or frequent asthma attacks).

"This second group – the children who were experiencing poor symptom control despite the use of preventive medications – has received relatively little attention until now," Halterman said.

Especially interested in this disconnect, Halterman and her colleagues began to examine the data and found several potential reasons for it, including children not using the daily medication consistently, being exposed to environmental triggers, such as secondhand smoke, or allergens like mold or pets, or simply not receiving adequate education about what to watch out for or what to do in the case of an attack.

Even more surprisingly, this incidence of poor control despite medication use was prevalent across the board, regardless of the child's age or the household's income level.

"The bottom line is that there's much work that needs to be done in making sure that children with asthma receive appropriate and effective care; it's more complex than one might think," Halterman said. "Asthma care involves coordination on everyone's part. Parents and patients need to report and track symptoms, relay this information to their doctor, use medications as prescribed, and steer clear of triggers. Physicians need to recognize persistent symptoms in their patients, and take time to prescribe, educate and draw up unique action plan for each patient's management."

Source: University of Rochester Medical Center

Explore further: Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Napster co-founder to invest in allergy research

Dec 17, 2014

(AP)—Napster co-founder Sean Parker missed most of his final year in high school and has ended up in the emergency room countless times because of his deadly allergy to nuts, shellfish and other foods.

As air pollution from fracking rises, EPA to set rules

Apr 17, 2012

The rush to capture natural gas from hydraulic fracturing has led to giant compressor stations alongside backyard swing sets, drilling rigs in sight of front porches, and huge flares at gas wells alongside country roads.

Recommended for you

Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

15 hours ago

Britain on Sunday lifted all restrictions at a duck farm in northern England after last month's outbreak of H5N8 bird flu, the same strain seen in recent cases across Europe.

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

Dec 20, 2014

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

Dec 20, 2014

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.