Lifestyle

The breakthrough that is reducing the odds of kindergarteners having asthma by 50%

1 in 9 Australians have asthma. That is around 2.5 million people.

Asthma is a respiratory condition affecting the airways of the lungs which causes breathlessness, tightness in the chest and wheezing. Asthma can affect anyone of any age however, according to Asthma Australia children under 15 are more likely to be hospitalised with asthma than those aged 15 and over.

However, it seems Australian researchers have found a way to reduce the rate of kindergarten-aged children having asthma by 50%.

The breakthrough that is reducing the odds of kindergarteners having asthma by 50%

The breakthrough that is reducing the odds of kindergarteners having asthma by 50%

For years, researchers from the Hunter Medical Research Institute have studied pregnant women (179 to be exact) in Newcastle, breath-testing and treating them (where applicable) for asthma.

The research team discovered that treating women for asthma during pregnancy halved the odds (literally – by 50 per cent) of their children being diagnosed with asthma before they started kindy.

More on the study

The study was also able to identify that children with asthma were more likely to be male, and those who had a low birth weight.

The study also showed that mothers who had children with asthma were also more likely to have higher levels of nitric oxide.

This indicates that the mother may have had sensitive airways while pregnant.

Therefore, the team of researchers tested expectant mothers for nitric oxide levels and gave women steroid medication during pregnancy.

They found this medication went on to reduce the odds of children between the ages of four and six having asthma.

Implementation of this approach in clinical practice has the potential to reduce asthma rates among a group of children at high-risk of developing the disease,” shares the research team in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

sick child

Cost of asthma

According to Asthma Australia $655 million was spent on asthma in 2008-9; which is 0.9% of all direct health spend on diseases.

  • 50% prescription pharmaceuticals
  • 30% out-of-hospital medical services
  • 20% admitted patient costs

Australians with asthma are also more likely to face a poorer quality of life, especially for those with severe or poorly managed asthma.

Asthma Australia also reveals that only 41 per cent of children (under 15 – who have asthma) have an asthma action plan.

If your child does not have an asthma action plan, we advise you see your GP.

There is no doubt asthma is a scary condition for both parents and children! Hopefully this study and additional research can continue to find ways to reduce the prevalence of asthma.

For more information about asthma (including signs, symptoms and treatment) visit Asthma Australia’s website. Be sure to chat with your doctor if you are worried your child (or youself) suffer from asthma. 

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