Q. How can I reduce the risk of my baby developing asthma?
A. 'The development of asthma is strongly associated with exposure to tobacco smoke,' says Delia Balan, asthma nurse specialist for Asthma UK. 'If you smoke, you should try to stop completely. Talk to your GP for quitting advice and support.' It's also a good idea to open the windows when it's not too cold outside. Centrally heated and poorly ventilated homes have led to an increase in house dust mites and mould spores, both asthma triggers.
Q. From what age can asthma be diagnosed and treated?
A. Children can develop asthma at any age, but the condition is harder to detect in toddlers. 'A pattern of recurrent symptoms, along with a family history of allergies is used to diagnose asthma in very young children,' says Delia. 'If you suspect your child may have it, keep a diary of when symptoms occur, so you can give your doctor details.' If your little one is diagnosed with asthma, he'll need to be monitored regularly, and treated. 'Usual treatment is with an inhaler,' says Dr Rob. 'These are often administered via a spacer - often called a 'plastic bubble' - attached to the inhaler, which ensures the child inhales the entire dose. With severe symptoms, a short course of steroid tablets may be needed.' Aside from medication, there are also some practical steps to take, adds Delia. 'If you know pets, damp or cold air trigger asthma in your child, avoid exposure to them.'
Q. Will he ever grow out of the condition?
A. It's possible. 'Some may grow out of wheezing episodes by school age, as the immune system develops and strengthens,' says Delia. 'Others find symptoms become milder.' However, recent research has shown that the underlying condition doesn't always disappear. 'It's possible symptoms may return in old age,' says Delia. 'So do monitor the condition - and see your GP if you're worried.'
See asthma.org.uk for more info.