Large September Spike in Emergency Hospital Admissions Expected for Children with Asthma

Asthma Society of Ireland warns of danger posed in the weeks following the return to school

September spike in numbers (based on 2013):

  • 780% increase in admissions compared to previous month, in age group  5-9 years
  • 106 % increase in admissions compared with monthly average, in age group 5-14 years
  • 51% increase in Average length of stay in hospital in September

For the 1 in 5 children with asthma in Ireland the back to school preparations involve a lot more than picking out a new pencil case and uniform.  Asthma is the most common chronic condition in children and each year emergency hospital admissions for children with asthma increase significantly in the month of September.  To combat the expected September spike the Asthma Society of Ireland has developed a checklist to help parents of children with asthma to get asthma under control before the return to school this year.

Hospital admissions for children with asthma aged between 5 – 14 years rose from 19 admissions in August to 116 in September (2013), an increase of 511%, according to the most recent figures available from the Hospital In-PatientEnquiry Scheme (HIPE). In the 5-9 years age group the increase was even more concerning, jumping by 780% (from 10 in August to 88 in September). The September figures also show an increase of 106% on the average monthly admissions for children aged 5-14.    In the same year, the average length of hospital stays increased by 51%; from 1.3 days in August to 1.8 days in September.

The Asthma Society is warning parents and teachers to be vigilant for asthma triggers at this dangerous time of year and is urging all guardians of children with asthma to put an asthma action plan in place for use both at home and at school.

Sharon Cosgrove, CEO of the ASI said: “Back-to-school time can be an exciting, and often stressful, time for many children. A change of environment, coupled with exposure to colds and viruses, means that children are exposed to more asthma triggers.”

“Asthma is a very controllable condition, and many of these emergency situations can be avoided with the right support systems in place. It is imperative that parents and teachers empower children with an asthma action plan to achieve maximum control over the condition and cope with the onset of any asthma symptoms.

Asthma affects 1 in 5 children so every classroom will have at least one child with asthma. As with all chronic illnesses education is critical and families need support to help them manage asthma at home and at school. To combat this spike in hospital admissions the Asthma Society of Ireland is providing a back to school checklist for parents, backed up by our Asthma Adviceline call-back service.

 ‘Back-to-School’ Checklist to help parents andteachers prepare for ‘back-to-school’ time

  1. Schedule an asthma review for your child:  It is important to have your child’s asthma reviewed by a GP before school starts and get their asthma action plan updated, or if they don’t have an action plan put one in place.
  1. Talk to the School and your child’s teacher:It’s important to visit the school and make sure your child’s teacher is aware that they have asthma, knows what their triggers are and what to do if your child has an asthma attack. Check if there is an Asthma School Policy in place, or what provisions are made if a childwith asthma joins the school.
  1. Make sure your child has access to their medication:Make sure your child carries their blue inhaler (reliever) at all times and that a spare reliever inhaler is left in school and labelled clearly with their name.  If possible have the school keep a spare spacer as well, for young children use of a spacer is always advised.
  1. Contact the Asthma Society of Ireland: the Asthma Adviceline is on hand to offer tailored advice and support.  We have a booklet with guidelines for managing asthma at school.  The booklet contains a wealth of information, which you can share with your child’s school and teachers.  Our team of asthma nurses can also help you put an asthma action plan in place to help you manage your child’s asthma.

During the back to school preparations The Asthma Society will also be running in-store asthma nurse consultations in local community pharmacies.  As part of the consultation visitors can get advice on managing asthma in school, and help putting an action plan in place for your child.

To get more advice on asthma at school and to download a copy of our checklist visit www.asthma.ie/school

For advice or support on asthma or for further information about the asthma clinics to be held nationwide visit www.asthma.ie

The Asthma Society also offers comprehensive FREE asthma education sessions to schools to help parents and teachers who wish to learn more about managing asthma in children. For more information on this programme and to get our school materials contact us on 01 817 8886 and ask to speak to a member of our Health Promotion Team.

We will be piloting our Asthma Friendly School Award programme this year and we would love to hear from any parent or teacher who would like to be involved in the programme.  The programme will help schools and teachers to manage asthma and support the 1 in 5 students in their class who are living with this chronic condition.  If you would like to know more or to get involved please contact our Health Promotion team on 01 817 8886 and together let’s teach asthma a lesson!