Adults on alert after child dies from asthma attack

ONE in ten kids will grow up managing asthma but what happens when something goes wrong?

Fears every parent of an asthmatic child harbours were realised by a couple on Sydney's North Shore when their eight-year-old son went into cardiac arrest in after-school care late Tuesday.

Teachers tried to help the child with his puffer and an air ambulance rushed to the scene but the boy could not be revived.

Sydney Children's Hospital respiratory specialist, Professor Adam Jaffe, said on Wednesday that while some tragedies could not be avoided, there were important steps parents and teachers could take to ensure asthmatic children had the best chance of surviving attacks.

The first and most important step, he said, was for parents to get the right diagnosis as early as possible.

Once a child had been diagnosed, parents should work with doctors to form an asthma management plan so the family is aware of how to recognise symptoms and use medical inhalers.

Prof Jaffe said it was vital asthma plans were reviewed every six months as the severity of the condition often changed in a growing child.

He also advised all parents to go through the plan with teachers and anyone looking after their child.

In this day and age, asthma is rarely fatal in children.

Prof Jaffe said asthma was more common in young boys than girls and that many children essentially "grew out" of the condition when they reached adolescence.

While many asthmatic children grew up without spending any time in hospital, Prof Jaffe said peak cold and virus seasons often coincided with a spike in admissions to the respiratory unit.

He warned parents to be particularly vigilant at back-to-school time in January and during the winter months.

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