Page last updated at 05:36 GMT, Tuesday, 4 May 2010 06:36 UK

Asthma knowledge gap in Wales 'dangerous' - charity

Young girl using an asthma inhaler
Asthma affects one in nine children in Wales

The lack of knowledge about asthma in Wales is "shocking and dangerous and cannot continue", claims a charity.

Asthma UK Cymru said a survey showed that 89% of adults in the country would not be confident about what to do if a child in their care had an attack.

It said asthma was believed by many to be a mild and harmless condition, yet more than 1,400 children in Wales were admitted to hospital every year.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it welcomed the work to raise awareness.

Asthma is the most common long-term condition in children in the UK and affects one in nine children (59,000) in Wales, and 314,000 people in total, claims the charity.

It said the lack of awareness about asthma among teachers and other school staff in particular, was highlighted by the recent inquest into the death of 11-year-old Samuel Linton, from Stockport.

He was left in a corridor at school for several hours after suffering an asthma attack.

Not acting quickly enough can result in needless deaths that shatter lives
Nia Jeffreys, national director, Asthma UK Cymru

The inquest found that school staff lacked vital training on how to recognise an asthma attack and what to do in an emergency situation.

National director for Asthma UK Cymru, Nia Jeffreys said: "The lack of knowledge that exists about asthma in Wales is shocking and dangerous and cannot continue.

"Every member of the public needs to know the signs of worsening asthma and what steps to take if someone suffers an asthma attack. Not acting quickly enough can result in needless deaths that shatter lives.

"Parents who have lost children to asthma have told us they feel that a more proactive approach from health professionals might have made a crucial difference.

"That's why we are working closely with a number of key assembly members from all four parties on World Asthma Day (on Tuesday) in an effort to improve levels of asthma care in Wales."

An assembly government spokeswoman said: "We welcome the work which Asthma UK Cymru is doing to raise awareness of this condition."

World Asthma Day coincides with Asthma UK's annual fundraising week Putting Asthma in the Limelight, which runs from 1 to 9 May.

People unsure of what to do in an asthma attack should order an Asthma Attack Card, to support children and adults with the condition, said the charity.

The wallet sized card carries life saving information on the simple steps to take and can be ordered through asthma.org.uk, by calling 0800 121 62 55 or emailing info@asthma.org.uk



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