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Family Life and Asthma's Impact


A recent survey of parents of children ages 4-12 with asthma shows that 82 percent of surveyed parents have restricted playtime activities to help avoid triggers and prevent asthma attacks in their children, with 47% of them keeping children with asthma inside when allergy season is in full swing.

Working parents, who more often report experiencing stress related to raising a child with asthma than non-working parents (44% vs. 38%), take more precautions such as more often swapping carpeting for wood flooring (30% vs. 17%). They are also more likely than non-working parents to have visited the hospital because of problems stemming from their child's asthma in 2009 (71% vs. 53%).

Among parents who have placed restrictions on their child's activities, 34 percent have limited sports involvement or exertion; 27 percent have prevented their child from going on sleepovers; and 14 percent have prevented their child from touching their family cat or dog in hopes of preventing an asthma attack. Restricting their child's behavior, however, has caused more than a third (34%) of parents to feel guilty that they are taking away from the "normalcy" of his or her childhood.

Parents also make changes to their own activities to accommodate their child's asthma. Ninety percent of all parents surveyed take special measures to help ward off asthma attacks, especially around the house, by replacing carpeting with wood flooring (26%), swapping out bedding for non-allergenic materials (40%), and changing linens frequently (50%).

Working parents were even more likely to take these precautions, as they missed an average of six days of work in 2009 due solely to their child's asthma. Working parents also are more likely than their non-working counterparts to make certain their child always has a nebulized solution or an inhaler with them to treat their asthma if they have an attack (73% vs. 59%), and they more often track their child's experiences to identify triggers (60% vs. 47%).

"Managing a child's asthma can be very taxing for all parents, especially during peak allergy seasons that can trigger symptoms in millions of children," said Lisa Harris, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, University of Rochester Medical Center. "But the number of asthma attacks and the level of household stress can be greatly reduced, if parents learn about asthma, its triggers, and available treatment options."

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