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Children with asthma in single parent households fare worse

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
ACAI highlights difficulty faced by single parents who have children with asthma

Experts from the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology (ACAAI) have identified worse outcomes for children with asthma who live in single parent households.

The finding, according to researchers, is important for understanding factors that lead to repeated hospitalization for children suffering from allergy and asthma.

Research presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Meeting in Boston found one of the reasons children with asthma wind up in the hospital more often than those from dual-parent households may be related to financial strain and competing interests at home.

In a study performed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, investigators found children in single-parent homes were 50 percent more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within one year for asthma or wheezing, compared to children in households with two parents.

Terri Moncrief, MD, ACAAI member said, “Parents play an important role in controlling their child’s asthma and it takes time, energy and resources to follow their physician’s treatment plan, including reducing triggers and consistently giving medicines.”

Moncrief says it’s important to identify constraints of single parents trying to manage their children’s asthma symptoms.

One way to help children control asthma, also highlighted at the meeting is with text messages.

Researchers used data from data from study participants ages 6 to 17 who received daily text messages reminding them to take their maintenance inhaler to control asthma symptoms.

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The approach worked for children, but not teens.

“Since teens often communicate by text message, we were surprised to see this approach did not improve the consistency in which they took their medication,” said allergist Jennifer S. Lee, MD, ACAAI member, Women and Children’s Hospital, New York.”

Lee says larger studies are needed to see if text messages might help improve asthma control for teens. In the pilot study, two out of seven children had improvement in symptoms of wheezing and parents reported sending text messages was valuable.

The researchers also suggested giving a single flu shot to children with egg allergy that can lead to asthma symptoms could help control symptoms.

Allergist Matthew Greenhawt, MD, ACAAI member and assistant professor in the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the University of Michigan said, “Children with food allergies are more likely to have asthma, which can increase their chance of respiratory complications from the flu.

Expanding the population of children that receive flu shots will play an important role in decreasing influenza associated hospitalization, and in promoting the overall health of our children.”

In a two year study, the flu vaccine was found to be safe for children with egg allergy, regardless of the severity. Seven other studies that spanned 12 years also found the vaccine to be safe in 161 children who received the flu shot and who had allergy to eggs.

Keeping children with asthma out of the hospital can reduce financial and emotional stress.

This year’s findings from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Meeting highlights the difficulty and higher readmission rates for children with asthma when they live in single parent households. Text messages can help children remember to take their medications and a single flu shot could safely help kids with egg allergy, who are also more prone to asthma.

Image credit: Wikimedia commons
Author: Tradimus