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Tuesday, 14 March, 2000, 15:17 GMT
Asthma rates 'rising dramatically'
Asthma boy
More children suffering from asthma
The number of children suffering from asthma has shown a massive rise in the past eight years, a study shows.

The survey of 3,000 children aged six and seven found that 23% of them have suffered from the breathing disorder at some point in their lives - and the severity of the illness has also become worse.

This compared to 13% of children when a previous study was carried out in 1992.

The prevalence of asthma and asthma symptoms in the UK is increasing and that it is becoming a major health problem

Dr Mohammad Shamssain
The survey, by Dr Mohammad Shamssain and colleagues at the University of Sunderland, also found that 28% of children coughed at night - a symptom of asthma - compared to 16% in the previous study.

Figures for wheezing were also up - 30% had wheezed during their lives, compared to 24% in 1992, and 13% wheezed during exercise, compared to 10% previously.

The results of the survey will now be used to measure future trends in the prevalence and severity of asthma in schoolchildren in the north-east of England.

Preventative measures

Further research will be done to see why the rates have increased, in the hope this will lead to preventative measures to stop the condition.

Dr Shamssain said: "Our study confirms that the prevalence of asthma and asthma symptoms in the UK is increasing and that it is becoming a major health problem.

"It is important to study younger children because earlier intervention reduces the likelihood of disability through asthma and having asthma long-term."

The study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation and the Wellcome Trust and published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, is part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood, involving 166 research centres and half a million children world-wide.

A spokesman for the National Asthma Campaign said: "The results from this study seem to confirm our own figures that asthma and wheezing in young children are on the increase.

"The UK has amongst the highest incidence of asthma in the world and the importance of asthma research in searching for a cure cannot be overstated."

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29 Sep 99 | Health
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