Why asthma attack rates in children are dropping

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just published results of a study into the prevalence of asthma amongst children in the United States. According to their findings, asthma attack rates have improved a bit in recent years, and fewer children are being admitted to the hospital for asthma attacks. In addition, children have missed fewer days of school in recent years due to asthma attacks.

According to the CDC, that 61.7% of children with asthma experienced attacks in 2001, where only 53.7% of asthmatic children experienced these attacks in 2016. Perhaps more impressive is the drop in hospital admissions. In 2003, 10% of children with asthma were admitted to the hospital, but in 2013, this figure had dropped to only 5%.

The overall rate of asthma amongst children has not gone down in recent years, so there has been some speculation as to the reduction in attacks and hospital admissions. Experts have pointed to the fact that more children now follow an asthma action plan, meaning that more children are now trained to recognize symptoms of asthma and respond to them in a timely way. These action plans can prevent full-blown asthma attacks and the need for hospitalization.

In addition to the improvement in asthma attacks and hospitalization, the CDC report also provided other data on childhood asthma in the United States. For instance, in 2016, asthma attacks were most common among children who were 4 years old or younger. Additionally, asthma among children of Mexican heritage increased from 5.1% in 2001 to 6.5% in 2016.

Based on the results of the study, it is important to ensure that asthmatic children understand asthma and their own triggers and symptoms. Having an action plan in place can be helpful not only in preventing major asthma attacks and visits to the hospital, but it can also reduce anxiety about these types of events. With the flu being particularly severe this year, it is also critical to remember that the flu can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Being prepared to deal with the sudden onset of asthma symptoms can protect children from the physical and emotional stress of an attack.

Author
Dr. Summit Shah

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