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Parents are being warned by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ) that they should be prepared for the annual rise in asthma hospitalisations when their children return to school after the holidays.
Increases in asthma hospitalisations when school returns are well-documented in overseas studies peaking within the first 2-4 weeks of the first day of school each Term, the largest being an increase in Term 1 after summer holidays.
Senior Research Fellow at the University of Otago Dr Lucy Telfar Barnard says: “Preliminary work with New Zealand data shows the same trends as overseas, with increased hospitalisations in the ‘back-to-school’ period. Further analysis will be needed to measure this properly – something we have underway.”
Annually there are 7,000 asthma hospitalisations. More than half of these cases are children under the age of 15-years-old.
Cases usually occur when there is a change of environment and exposure to different allergens and changes in emotions being stress or anxiety. Exposures to more viruses from being around more grouped people is another cause according to studies.
Parents should be aware of and urged to focus on prevention. “There are three key things that parents can do” says Joanna Turner, Research and Education Manager, ARFNZ.
Ensure their child has an Asthma Action Plan and that this is shared with their school, along with updated emergency details. Children need to be taking their preventer medication as prescribed and bringing their reliever inhaler to school – check that this is not empty or out of date.
“Getting a flu vaccine and good hand hygiene is also important to prevent the spread of germs,” says Joanna.
Visit: www.asthmafoundation.org.nz/resources/school-asthma-checklist for more information.
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