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Parents' Worries Hamper Kids' Asthma Treatment
Date:9/4/2007

Moms and dads withhold drugs because of side effect concerns, study finds

TUESDAY, Sept. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Parents' worries about the safety of asthma drugs may prevent asthmatic children from getting the relief they deserve, a new study suggests.

According to data released in the September issue of Pediatrics, one in six parents of children with asthma is more concerned about the side effects of asthma medications than their child's need for the drugs. Addressing parental worries may increase adherence to needed asthma drugs, the researchers said.

An estimated 10 million children in the United States suffer with asthma, yet only half of prescribed medications are taken daily as directed.

"Children today can be virtually symptom-free, thanks to modern preventive medications," lead author Kelly Conn, of the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in a prepared statement. "But kids rely on their parents to make health decisions for them, so we need to know what parents are thinking as we partner with them to achieve this goal."

Conn's team interviewed parents of 622 Michigan children who reported using at least one preventive asthma medication. The parents completed a Beliefs About Medications Questionnaire which contrasts parents' belief in the need for the medication against their worry about taking medications on a regular basis. Worries might include concerns about side effects or whether the medication is habit-forming.

The data showed that 77 percent of parents felt their child's need for the medications outweighed their concerns about pharmaceutical safety. However, 17 percent were more concerned about the drugs' potential to harm their child than they were convinced of its necessity. The remaining 6 percent were torn.

The researchers also asked the parents to complete a Medication Adherence Scale, which assesses how well they help keep their children on the medication regime
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