Vigilance urged over annual spike of asthma attacks in children

September is the most dangerous time for children with asthma meaning parents should be extra vigilant about their child’s triggers as they prepare to head back to school, according to the Asthma Society of Ireland (ASI).

Cases of emergency hospital admissions for children with asthma spike in September every year, both in Ireland and around the globe, the society said.

According to the latest figures from the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry Scheme, hospital admissions for children with asthma aged between five and 14 rose from 19 admissions in August last year to 116 the following month, an increase of 511%.

In the five to nine age bracket the increase was even higher, jumping from 10 last August to 88 the following month, an increase of 780%.

The average length of hospital stays for children with asthma also increased last year, from 1.3 days in August to 1.8 days in September, an increase of 51%.

“This spike is a combination of a few things,” said ASI chief executive Sharon Cosgrove. “We know stress is connected to asthma and kids can be a bit stressed as they prepare to go back to school. Kids are also in closer proximity to each other when they’re back in the classroom so it’s more likely that they would catch a cold. We know the common cold is one of the biggest causes of an asthma attack.”

Ms Cosgrove also warned against parents reducing the amount of asthma medication their child takes during the summer.

“Some children’s asthma can improve in summer so parents might reduce the amount of preventer medication their child takes,” she said. “This medication builds up in the system, so the child might not be as protected as they should when they go back to school since they are not taking the proper amount of medication.”

But asthma is a “very controllable condition”, she said as she urged parents to put an asthma attack plan in place as soon as possible.

“Parents can schedule an asthma review with their child’s GP and can then put in place an appropriate asthma action plan,” she said. “We would advise parents to put this plan in place and make sure their child is taking preventative medication if it has been prescribed.

“Parents should also speak with their child’s teacher and make sure they are aware of the child’s asthma and any triggers they might have. It’s also important they have access to their medication while in school.”

Asthma affects one in every five children, meaning every classroom should have children with the condition.

In a bid to reduce hospital admissions this September, the ASI is providing a back to school checklist for parents, backed up by their National Asthma Adviceline service, available on 1850 44 54 64.


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