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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Kid's asthma rates decreasing

(Shutterstock image)

I just saw a story scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen while I watched Good Morning America on December 28th. It said that asthma rates are going down, after years of going up.

I can't find the story on Good Morning America, but found a LOT of other stories from many TV stations. The article was first published by AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner in a medical journal Pediatrics   But I can't find it there either. Sigh.

This is the best article I found on KSL TV (I like the awesome chart!) 

The article says that asthma rates were going up for years and years and now are going down. Researchers (I love smart people!) are trying to figure out why the rates would increase for so many years and then finally start to decrease.

The article from the AP website says that:

"Childhood asthma rates doubled from 1980 to 1995, partly because of more awareness and diagnosis."
Have you ever gone to the doctor with a sick kid and had them tell you, "It's just a virus."? My doctor told me that - about a week before Son #2 was hospitalized for asthma. I took my son to The Pediatrician with an article I had saved about asthma from Parents Magazine. I remember telling the doctor that I thought my son had asthma - he had a lot of the signs and symptoms of asthma. The Pediatrician said, "No. He doesn't have asthma. It's just a virus." Well, "just a virus" caused my son to have a severe cough, pale skin and dark circles under his eyes.  He seemed to get worse and worse over the next few days.

So, I marched right back to The Pediatrician and said, "something is wrong - my son just doesn't look right. " Well, something WAS wrong. The Pediatrician took one look at Son #2 and started a breathing treatment on the nebulizer and called the hospital (attached to our doctor's office) to ask them to get a bed ready for my son. He then told me to take Son #2 to the hospital and that they were admitting him to the pediatrics unit. 

Once in the Pediatrics Unit, a respiratory therapist said, "You know your son has asthma, right?" My mouth dropped open and I said, "I had him at The Pediatrician's office last week and he said my son doesn't have asthma!!"  Respiratory Therapist said, "Oh, he has asthma alright. That's why he's in the hospital." 

That was my introduction to the world of asthma - 16 years ago. Since then, all 3 of my children were diagnosed with asthma and they had 12 hospitalizations (almost all due to pneumonia.). I also figured out that is why I used to get REALLY sick every time I had a cold when I was growing up. I didn't know that I had asthma too!  That experience changed our lives forever.

But, I'm getting sidetracked! I was talking about how doctors are better at diagnosing asthma now (hopefully!), and that's why asthma rates have gone up over the last 20 years.

So, why are asthma rates going down now? Researchers aren't sure, but there are many things that make asthma worse (including obesity and bad air pollution.) Obesity rates are decreasing for kids, as are pollution levels in some areas.

I think people are more aware of asthma now and know how to treat it. Props to the CDC Asthma Program  

The CDC helps with asthma awareness at the national level, and then that helps people at the state asthma programs, which then helps people at the county and city levels. And then they can help your family!

Many states have asthma programs (Minnesota,Montana,New York, Utah, etc.)

Allergy & Asthma Network is a GREAT resource for families that have asthma. They also have a quarterly magazine, Allergy & Asthma Today that is VERY helpful. 

You can also contact American Lung Association 

Well, that ought to keep you busy for a while! Just remember that knowledge is power.

If you have asthma, use the resources above to figure out what makes your asthma worse (triggers) and learn how to avoid them. The more you know, the more if will help you take care of your asthma.


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