Children's Health

NPS MedicineWise launches educational program to improve treatment of pediatric asthma

With a 2019 Australian study finding that only just over half (54%) of children treated in general practice were managed following Australian and international pediatric asthma clinical practice guidelines, the latest educational program from NPS MedicineWise launching today will provide an opportunity for health professionals to refresh their knowledge about basic principles in diagnosing and managing asthma for children of different ages.

Children are not ‘small adults’ and treatment approaches may be different to those of adolescents and adults. When it comes to asthma, a definitive diagnosis may not be possible for young children, which can lead to an incorrect or missed diagnosis of asthma.

NPS MedicineWise medical adviser Dr. Jill Thistlethwaite says the new NPS MedicineWise asthma program is important to improve children’s quality of life and help reduce problems around sleep, missing school and not being able to exercise.

There are several conditions often misdiagnosed or prematurely diagnosed as asthma in children, such as upper airway dysfunction and bronchitis.

Most children who have recurrent wheeze associated with a respiratory tract infection at a young age are no longer wheezy by the age of 6 years.

Spirometry to support a diagnosis of asthma for children over the age of 6 is underutilized due to a range of issues, including lack of access to equipment and unfamiliarity with carrying out spirometry for children.

Dr. Jill Thistlethwaite, NPS MedicineWise medical adviser

While everyone with asthma should have and follow an individualized asthma action plan, Australian statistics from 2019 show that only 63% of children with asthma actually have one.

“It is important for health professionals to regularly ask about symptom frequency and reliever use, and to regularly review the asthma action plan. Overuse of relievers may be a sign a review of the child’s treatment is needed,” says Dr. Thistlethwaite.

The new NPS MedicineWise asthma program is informed by Choosing Wisely Australia recommendations from the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand. The program offers health professional education elements and consumer resources to support patient consultations:

  • Medicinewise News article: Spirometry and its role in diagnosing children’s asthma
  • Health professional website content on asthma
  • Updated health professional inhaler technique checklist
  • Patient fact sheet on spirometry
  • Consumer online information on asthma
  • MedicineWise App

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