Potential ‘surge’ in asthma attacks when schools return – charity

More than 100,000 children in England could have missed out on an asthma review due to the coronavirus pandemic, a charity has said.

Basic asthma care has been disrupted by the crisis, which could have severe consequences, Asthma UK warned.

The charity estimated that 133,800 children with asthma in England had missed out on their annual asthma review.

It said that asthma checks, where a child’s inhaler technique is checked and their asthma action plan reviewed, can be carried out remotely.

Asthma UK said the checks are essential in keeping children well and out of hospital and called on parents to take urgent action to book their child in with their GP.

It expressed concern that the number of asthma attacks could “surge” when children return to school.

September typically sees a surge in asthma attacks as children return to school, usually due to a number of factors including seasonal allergies, exposure to colds and viruses and cleaning products.

During the long summer break, some parents fall out of the habit of getting their children to regularly use their preventer inhaler, which can also make them more sensitive to triggers when they return to school, the charity added.

The charity has estimated that 71% of children with asthma have not returned to school since March, which could mean they have been out of their usual habits for an even longer period, it said.

As well as urging parents to book an asthma check, it also called on parents to remember their usual asthma care and get back into good routines before their child goes back to school.

“Unless parents act now, asthma attacks could rise to unprecedented levels when children go back to school,” said Emma Rubach, head of health advice at Asthma UK.

“Children have already missed a lot of school because of the pandemic so it’s vital that parents ensure they are prepared for their return to the classroom by making sure they take their preventer medicine every day.

“If their routine has slipped, it’s time to urgently get back to it – to avoid a hospital admission when term starts.

“The NHS is open for business and if your child’s annual asthma review has been cancelled then it’s important that you contact your GP surgery to reschedule it.”