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Home Care Tips for Reducing the Risk of Childhood Hospitalizations Due to Asthma
Date:2/12/2009

Visiting Nurse Service of New York Health Advisory

NEW YORK, Feb. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Asthma attacks are the leading cause of hospitalizations for children in New York City, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why? Recent research suggests that there are many causes for asthma attacks, ranging from air pollution and roach droppings to immune system changes that result from the presence, or lack of, certain microbes (allergy-causing organisms that can't be seen with the naked eye). The biggest problem, however, is that few parents realize just how toxic the home environment can be for young asthmatic children.

Few experiences are more stressful for families than emergency room visits and hospitalizations for children. Fortunately, while some hospitalizations are unavoidable, they can be minimized, and even sidestepped, with proper home care.

The Visiting Nurse Service of New York, the nation's largest not-for-profit home health care organization, has developed in-depth expertise to provide the best care to New Yorkers in their homes, including those families with asthmatic children.

According to Sandra Eger-McTernan, RN, MSN, CPNP, a VNSNY pediatric nurse specialist, "While there are a number of different views on the causes of pediatric asthma, there are several surefire steps that parents can take at home to reduce the risk of hospitalizations."

  • Go green. The use of four or more household cleaners in one home can increase the incidence of asthma in adults and children. However, children breathe at a faster rate than adults, which puts them at greater risk for harm. Look for environmentally-friendly cleaning products with non-toxic ingredients.
  • Beware of scents: Household air pollution that cause or worsen asthma in children can come for surprising sources, including incense, perfumes and air fresheners, fresh paint and new carpeting. As much as possible, children should be breathing fresh air at home. (Just because something smells good, doesn't mean it isn't polluting the air or isn't potentially dangerous.)
  • Air things out. Open the windows after cleaning your home with chemicals. Many people believe that the smell of bleach implies a clean home or nursery, but it can be harmful.
  • Be smoke-free. Households with children should be "no smoking" zones. If you smoke cigarettes, make it your goal to quit and never allow guests to light up in your home.
  • Make your home dust free. Damp mop often. Wipe down all surface areas, picture frames, bookshelves. Avoid collections of furry toys. Vacuum carpets often.
  • Make your home fur-free. Avoid keeping pets in the home. If you must have pet, keep it confined to areas other than your child's bedroom and keep the bedroom door closed at all times.
  • Keep food in the kitchen. Food should be stored and eaten in appropriate locations and not in your child's bedroom or other rooms, and keep surfaces free of standing water as it can attract allergy-causing roaches.
  • Turn on the AC. Use air conditioners when possible, but remember to clean out air filters every year. Avoid humidifiers as they can be a breeding ground for unhealthy molds. When using fans, clean the blades and ensure the area is dust free prior to use.
  • Spread the word. Ask those who care for your children, like babysitters or relatives, to take the above precautions in their own homes, if your child spends more than several days a week there.
  • Get vaccinated. Children who have had 12 or more severe respiratory (lung) infections in the first few years of life are at a significantly increased risk of asthma. To reduce the risk of lung infections, asthmatic children should get the flu shot every year.
  • Wash up. Frequent hand washing by both parents and children can lessen the risk of childhood lung infections. Make an effort to teach your kids this healthy habit as early as possible.

For further information on pediatric home care you can visit www.vnsny.org/home-health-care-and-you/planning/caring-for-your-child/.


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SOURCE Visiting Nurse Service of New York
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