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Diagnosis and management of asthma in children

Martin J, Townshend J, Brodlie M. Diagnosis and management of asthma in children. BMJ Paediatrics Open 2022;6:e001277. oi:10.1136/bmjpo-2021-001277


Asthma is the the most common chronic respiratory condition of childhood worldwide, with around 14% of children and young people affected. Despite the high prevalence, paediatric asthma outcomes are inadequate, and there are several avoidable deaths each year. Characteristic asthma features include wheeze, shortness of breath and cough, which are typically triggered by a number of possible stimuli. There are several diagnostic challenges, and as a result, both overdiagnosis and underdiagnosis of paediatric asthma remain problematic. Effective asthma management involves a holistic approach addressing both pharmacological and non-pharmacological management, as well as education and self-management aspects. Working in partnership with children and families is key in promoting good outcomes. Education on how to take treatment effectively, trigger avoidance, modifiable risk factors and actions to take during acute attacks via personalised asthma action plans is essential. This review aimed to provide an overview of good clinical practice in the diagnosis and management of paediatric asthma. We discuss the current diagnostic challenges and predictors of life-threatening attacks. Additionally, we outline the similarities and differences in global paediatric asthma guidelines and highlight potential future developments in care. It is hoped that this review will be useful for healthcare providers working in a range of child health settings.

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