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Comprehensive Plan May Help Control Children's Asthma

Hospital visits declined following family education classes, study shows

SATURDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- A comprehensive, patient-centered asthma control program helps keep children out of the hospital and could reduce health care costs, a new study shows.

Children's Hospital Boston researchers developed an "asthma medical home" within their primary care unit and began education sessions for 1,900 asthmatic children and their families. The classes included a review of asthma basics, appropriate medication use, how to recognize and manage an asthma attack, and common environmental asthma triggers.

The participants also received help obtaining asthma medications and referrals to allergy and pulmonary specialists. Assistance in reducing environmental asthma triggers included access to dust mite covers and doctor visits to the home to assess and eliminate triggers such as mold and pests.

Emergency department visits for asthma decreased 63 percent (from 26 percent to 9.9 percent) after the program was introduced, and inpatient hospitalization rates decreased 62 percent (from 10.5 percent to 4 percent).

"With increased access to their primary care providers, increased knowledge about their child's disease process and greater control over environmental triggers, families are better empowered to manage their children's asthma symptoms," lead author Dr. Faye F. Holder-Niles said in a news release. "This comprehensive approach to asthma can have tremendous impact on the lives of asthmatic patients."

The findings were to be presented Saturday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about management of childhood asthma.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, May 1, 2010

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