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CDC: Asthma management ‘has improved among American children’

Asthma management among children has improved in recent years, with a smaller percentage of children hospitalized as a result of the condition, according to the latest Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

Since the last study, the percentage of children with asthma who experienced one or more asthma attacks in the preceding 12 months declined from 61.7 percent in 2001 to 53.7 percent in 2016. Hospitalization of children due to asthma also declined, with the proportion dropping from around one in ten in 2003 to just one in twenty in 2013.

Furthermore, the report found the number of children with asthma who missed school days as a result of their condition also declined. In 2003, more than six out of ten children had to miss school due to asthma-related illness but in 2013, this proportion dropped to less than half of all children with asthma. 

“We are making progress - but healthcare providers, parents, caregivers, and schools can do more to help children avoid asthma attacks,” said Anne Schuchat, MD, acting director of the CDC.

“Asthma attacks can be terrifying for children and their families. Over the past decade, we’ve identified asthma management actions that work – not alone but in combination. Now we need to scale up these efforts nationwide,” she added.

Asthma is considered well controlled if: 

  • Symptoms appear two days a week or less and do not cause patients to wake from sleep for more than one or two nights each month. 
  • Patients are able to do normal activities
  • Patients have no more than one asthma attack each year requiring several days of treatment with a pill or liquid.
  • Peak flow does not drop below 80 percent of the patient’s personal best.
  • Quick-relief medicines, such as Ventolin HFA (albuterol sulfate) or Xopenex Hfa (levalbuterol tartrate), are used no more than two days each week.

What triggers an asthma attack?

In addition to taking the right medication at the correct time, the risk of asthma attacks may also be minimized by understanding the possible triggers. These include: 

  • Allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, and animal dander. 
  • Irritants in the air, such as smoke, chemical fumes, and strong odors. 
  • Certain illnesses, notably those affecting the respiratory system, such as the flu, common cold, or sinusitis.
  • Strenuous exercise. 
  • Extreme weather conditions. 
  • Strong emotions that change normal breathing patterns. 

Asthma is extremely common among American children, affecting an estimated six million youngsters throughout the United States. Despite the latest encouraging data, figures from the National Health Interview Survey 2013 indicate that as many as 55 percent of children prescribed asthma control medicines still do not use them regularly. The CDC website offers tools and Asthma Action Plans to assist parents and caregivers with the management of their child’s condition.