With asthma rates on the rise, are there any steps parents can take to prevent it from developing in their children?
The worldwide increase in asthma is thought to be due to many factors, including air pollution, climate change, environmental allergens, respiratory infections, and stress. By keeping the home environment free of triggers such as dust, mites, animal dander, and cockroaches, parents can minimize the chance that children will have wheezing attacks. To protect children from infections that can trigger asthma, parents should ensure that children keep on up-to-date on their immunizations as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, including an annual flu shot. Children should all be taught good hand-washing techniques.
One of the major causes of asthma and many other childhood afflictions is smoking. Parents who smoke are more likely to have premature babies whose lungs are more prone to develop asthma. Once the baby is born, parental smoking makes the asthma come on more frequently and worsens attacks. The Julius B. Richmond Center of Excellence at the American Academy of Pediatrics offers great tips for families to stop smoking so that their children will not suffer asthma as the result of a truly preventable cause.
Parents can also watch out for experiences that place stress on their children, such as midyear and final exams and school-based competency reviews. During these times, parental support and statements of unconditional love can go a long way to reduce distress.
For the larger causes—air pollution, climate change, and overall societal stress—bigger solutions may be needed, with families banding together to work on decreasing automobile emissions, advocating for clean air interventions, and a greener environment.
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