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Parents often wait too long to treat children's asthma symptoms
Date:2/11/2010

Parents of young children with asthma often recognize signs that their child is about to have an asthma attack but delay home treatment until the attack occurs, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report.

Results of the study, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, show there are missed opportunities to intervene early and thus relieve a child's symptoms, possibly reduce the extent of the attack and prevent visits to the emergency room.

The study stems from comments received by two lay asthma coaches employed by Washington University School of Medicine. The coaches are trained to help educate families dealing with asthma by offering information and social support. They also have asthma themselves or a family member who has it.

While talking to parents of children with asthma, the coaches noticed that parents were often unsure of exactly how to use albuterol, a bronchodilator that relaxes muscles in the airways and increases airflow to the lungs, when they noticed signs that their child's asthma symptoms were worsening. The study followed up on those observations to determine if they are true among a larger group.

Asthma is one of the most common childhood diseases in the United States. Every year, two of every three children with asthma have at least one attack, or exacerbation. These exacerbations often result in missed school days, visits to the emergency room and hospitalizations. But researchers at the School of Medicine say some of these exacerbations could be prevented with early home treatment with albuterol.

For the study, the coaches telephoned 101 parents of children ages 2-12 who had recent visits to the emergency department at St. Louis Children's Hospital with an asthma exacerbation or who had called the hospital's After Hours Call Center. More than 60 percent of the families had Medicaid insurance. The coaches surveyed the parents about how the
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Contact: Beth Miller
millerbe@wusm.wustl.edu
314-286-0119
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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