Healio examines the prevalence and management of asthma in children.

Although asthma prevalence among children more than doubled from 1980 (3.6%) to 1995 (7.5%), according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, asthma attacks among children have remained relatively constant, due, in part, to a better understanding of the mechanisms of asthma.

Recognized as a chronic inflammatory condition occasionally complicated by bronchospasms — rather than the reverse of earlier years — asthma was treated with a variety of bronchodilators, including theophylline, ephedrine, adrenaline and isoprenaline, as well as steroids. However, an over-reliance on these medications and inadequate asthma control also contributed to an escalating number of asthma-related deaths among children in the US, UK and Australia.

Although significant progress has been made in epidemiological research and therapy for pediatric asthma over the past 30 years, scant adherence to asthma medications and inadequate education on the risk of poor asthma control contribute heavily to soaring asthma rates: Asthma remains the third highest cause for hospitalization among children and one of the leading causes of school absenteeism.

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