Asthma and Kids

Here are some tips to manage -- and even avoid -- this unpredictable disease.
Hard to Diagnose

One common test for asthma
is to have the child try to
blow up a balloon.

Asthma symptoms often match those of routine childhood illnesses, and there is no test to diagnose asthma in children under age 5. Yet after reading the latest statistics on asthma in kids, you might think the disease would be on top of every pediatrician's list of suspects.

The leading serious chronic illness of children today, asthma affects 5 million Americans under age 18. It accounts for about one in six pediatric emergency-room visits. Between 1980 and 1994, there was a 160 percent increase in the number of asthma cases in newborn children through age 4. Even scarier, asthma deaths -- usually the result of too little treatment, too late -- also are on the rise.

That's the bad news. The good news is that with the right medication and awareness, asthmatic children can live with virtually no limitations on their activities.

Continued on page 2:  Playing Detective