Asthma in Children

Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting an estimated 4.8 million children. It is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism , accounting for over 10 million missed school days, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Children with asthma have attacks of coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, which may be very serious. These symptoms are caused by spasms of the air passages in the lungs. The air passages swell, become inflamed, and fill with mucus, making breathing difficult. Many asthma attacks occur when children get respiratory infections, including infections caused by common cold viruses. Attacks can also be caused by:

• exposure to cigarette smoke

• stress

• strenuous exercise

• weather conditions, including cold, windy, or rainy days

• allergies to animals, dust, pollen, or mold

• indoor air pollutants, such as paint, cleaning materials, chemicals, or perfumes

• outdoor air pollutants, such as ozone

Reprinted with permission from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control


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