Teaching kids asthma ‘red flags’ may save lives

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A program that teaches children how to recognize the signs and symptoms of an asthma attack—and how to deal with one effectively—has the potential to save lives.

“Childhood asthma affects three children in every classroom and can result in hospital admissions, significant absence from school, and even mortality, despite widely available treatments,” says Caitlin Peers of Cardiff University’s School of Medicine.

“Through our new scheme we are raising awareness and educating children about the condition in the hope of preventing fatal asthma attacks.”

Modeled on a University College London program that showed a 46 percent rise in the number of children who understood what asthma is and what to do during an attack, the initial awareness drive has educated over 220 children, age 4 to 9, in seven schools across Cardiff.

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The drive involved a 30-minute session, including a simple anatomy lesson about the lungs, a presentation, and interactive activities to identify triggers and manage attacks.

Prior to taking part in the program, the greatest lack of knowledge was in asthma treatment and management. Following the program, this was also the greatest area of improvement, as well: Children scored an average 42 percent before the presentation and 92 percent after it. They were also able to retain information as long as five months later, remembering all five key points of the program.

“Education and awareness about asthma from a young age is key to building a generation that will take responsibility of their own health, hopefully reducing asthma-related deaths that occur before reaching hospital,” Peers says.

Source: Cardiff University