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By, Dr. (Prof) G.C. Khilani- Head – Dept of Pulmonary Medicine & Sleep Disorders, AIIMS, New Delhi.

Asthma is one of the common chronic childhood illnesses. According to a recent survey, 35 percent of school-going children in India have been reported with an increasing prevalence and severity of asthma and other lung problems. As per the nationwide survey conducted by the HEAL Foundation, the pollution was one of the major factors for poor lung health in Indian children.

The survey, based on a preliminary lung health screening test (LHST), was carried out on 2000 children aged nine to 15 years. As per the recent survey, “Of the 735 students who took the test in New Delhi, 21 percent had ‘poor’ lung capacity while 19 percent had ‘bad’ capacity.” Another metropolitan city, Mumbai witnessed, “One out of every four children in the maximum city failed the lung test. Although, Mumbai came out on top with 73 percent children showing good lung function. Bengaluru children came next at 36 percent, while Kolkata ranked third at 35 percent. The survey also found that the worst-affected children are those who commute in packed vehicles. Around 22 lakh school-children in the national capital are growing up with irreversible lung damage.

As per the experts, with a proper understanding of the prevalence of asthma triggers in children will help parents to gain accurate treatment and medication to manage asthma. This will also lead in reducing the higher rates of asthma in children.

Risk factors for causing asthma in children –

Asthma has a huge impact on human health, especially children who feel and think that they are drifted apart from others. The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) conducted a study to assess the prevalence of asthma among children aged 13-14 years and 6-7 years across 14 centres in India. The total prevalence of “ever asthma” was accounted for 3.7% of the 30,043 and 4.5% of the 37,171 children in the age groups of 6-7-years and 13-14 years, respectively.

  • Rising levels of pollution are one of the major causes for fatal lungs disorders and severe respiratory problems
  • Asthma is not only caused due to environmental factors such as infection, microbial exposure which may act as risk factors depending on the point at which the exposure occurred in childhood or infancy but also because of the hieratic predisposition is the main reason to increase the asthma rates
  • Maternal smoking, diet, stress, antibiotics and mode of delivery which is a prenatal risk factor contributing to the development of asthma in the child
  • Indoor pollution such as exposure to allergens, dust, animal danger, pollens poses a severe threat to trigger asthma in your child
  • Odors, fragrances, volatile organic compounds in sprays and cleaning products are other components that lead to frequent asthma attacks in children
  • The daily lifestyle may also have an adverse effect on asthma differently at a different point in life and relevant triggers may change according to the period


Consequences for untreated asthma –

“If asthma is not properly managed, it often leads to anxiety, social isolation, and constant fear of flare-ups in children with asthma. Rather than risk another episode, children restrain themselves from all activity, exercises, and social events requiring exertion, which further adds to the physical and emotional stress. Support of family, and peers, coupled with counseling by professionals can help children handle the psychological distress. Additionally, eliminating the risk factors triggering asthma attacks and providing prompt medical attention goes a long way in ensuring the physical and psychological health of children suffering from asthma”.

Inhalation Treatment as Solution –

Use of therapies like oral corticosteroids (oral medication) for relief from asthma and other respiratory disorders, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and allergic rhinitis, was a fairly common practice in the mid-to-late 20th century. But it was associated with potentially serious adverse effects.

Inhaled corticosteroids therapy then came as the breakthrough in 1972, which revolutionized asthma therapy. It reduced the dosage of oral corticosteroids

The National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP), in its updated 2007 guidelines, recommended the use of inhaled corticosteroid therapy (ICT) for mild, persistent asthma across all age groups, including children.

“Optimal drug delivery and optimal dosage are crucial factors for efficacy and safety of any treatment. In the case of ICT, the drug reaches the inflamed lungs directly in minimal doses (about 25 to 100 micrograms), limiting the risk of systemic side-effects. While in the case of oral corticosteroids, the drug quantity is manifold high as its route of drug administration is different. It enters your bloodstream to course through the entire body, in the process the drug also reaches parts of the body where it is not required, thereby increasing the risk of severe side-effects”.

Identifying the risk factors that trigger asthma and opting for effective therapies help play a crucial role in managing the psychological and physical fallouts of this chronic illness in children.




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