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With asthma, sometimes you need to make a fuss!

20 May 2013

With asthma, sometimes you need to make a fuss!

Asthma Awareness Week, on 20-26 May, aims to raise awareness of the high number of children, particularly Māori children, who are affected by and end up in hospital with asthma.

“I didn’t want to make a fuss” is something that is heard too often when a child is admitted to hospital. The Asthma Foundation says that sometimes parents and carers need to make a fuss to keep their children well and out of hospital.

New figures from the University of Otago confirm there were 8,000 hospital admissions for asthma in 2011. Of these admissions, 4,540 or 57 percent were children under 15 years old, and of these children, 1,724 or 38 percent were Māori.

While the prevalence of asthma is similar for Māori and non-Māori children, Māori children with asthma tend to have more severe symptoms, require hospitalisation for asthma almost twice as often as non-Māori children, and require more time off school because of asthma.

Dr Tristram Ingham, medical adviser to the Asthma Foundation suggests that high hospitalisation rates for asthma are a failure of primary care. “Particularly troubling is that Māori are less likely to have been given a peak flow meter or asthma action plan by their health professional, and fewer are prescribed preventative treatment with regular inhaled corticosteroids,” says Dr Ingham.

Free health care for those under 6 years old allows whānau to take their tamariki to the doctor or health team regularly. Past this age the cost can be prohibitive. Often whānau attend only at a time of immediate need or when a child is very sick.

The Asthma Foundation recommends people keep using their medication as prescribed and parents fill out a child asthma management plan with a health professional. This will help manage their child’s asthma and recognise when it is deteriorating, before it becomes an emergency.

“Don't wait until asthma is out of control to do something about it. You know your child best – have confidence to take your child to the doctor and be seen before it is an emergency, because sometimes you need to make a fuss!” says Dr Ingham.

1. One in four New Zealand children and one in six adults has asthma.
2. New Zealand has the second highest rate of asthma in the world, following the UK.
3. People still die from asthma, with 79 deaths in 2006, 61 in 2007 and 65 in 2008.
4. About 800,000 New Zealanders are affected by asthma and other respiratory conditions.
5. The prevalence of asthma is similar for Māori and non-Māori children. However, Māori children with asthma tend to have more severe symptoms, require hospitalisation for asthma almost twice as often as non-Māori children, and require more time off school because of asthma.
6. It is estimated that 550,000 school days in New Zealand are lost each year due to asthma.
7. New Zealand’s economic burden of asthma is conservatively estimated at over $800,000,000 per year.
8. Asthma affects approximately 235 million people worldwide and the prevalence is rising.
9. Asthma causes an estimated 250,000 deaths annually worldwide.

2011 Total asthma admissions
Data from University of Otago review of admission information (1 Jan 2013)

District Health BoardTotal admissionsRate per 100,000Ranking (1= highest rate of admissions per 100,000)
Auckland8862336
Bay of Plenty (Tauranga)4602594
Canterbury (Christchurch)69017016
Capital and Coast (Wellington)5572188
Counties Manukau11892515
Hawke’s Bay (Wairoa/Hawke’s Bay)28721010
Hutt Valley3482663
Lakes (Rotorua/Taupo)2723041
Mid Central (Palmerston Nth)30020712
Nelson Marlborough14212919
Northland (Whangarei/Dargaville/Kawakawa/Kaitaia)26920013
South Canterbury (Timaru)429620
Southern (Southland/Otago)32213118
Tairawhiti (Gisborne)9320811
Taranaki (New Plymouth)17819214
Waikato (Hamilton)58317815
Wairarapa (Masterton)692109
Waitemata (North Shore/Waitakere)10742247
West Coast (Greymouth)4416017
Whanganui (Wanganui)1532912
Total7958

About the Asthma Foundation
The Asthma Foundation is New Zealand’s sector authority on asthma and other respiratory illnesses. We advocate to government and raise awareness of respiratory illnesses, fund research for better treatments and educate on best practice. We provide resources on our website and support our affiliated asthma societies and trusts in providing education, support and advice. For more information, visit the Asthma Foundation’s website www.asthmafoundation.org.nz.

ENDS

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