Researchers say educating kids with asthma about basic strategies for early symptom recognition and medication, by health care experts improves their condition immensely.
John Hopkins research team suggests that in-the-home demonstration and training on the proper use of inhalers by an asthma specialist and a discussion with the family about regular access to a pediatrician can be helpful.
An asthma action plan specifically tailored to each child, with a list of must-take daily controller medication to keep inflammation at bay, a checklist of what to do when symptoms start and when to seek emergency care would also improve asthma attacks in kids.
During the study, researchers compared the effectiveness of three different strategies in 250 African-American children with asthma who ended up in the ER with an asthma attack.
One group received a booklet with basic asthma information - the standard and usual care. The other two groups received educational home visits by asthma educators, with one group receiving education only, and the other receiving education plus feedback on how well the patient was following their medication instructions.
They found that children in the two groups that received home visits and whose medication use was monitored had 15 percent fewer trips to the ED compared to children who got the standard care.
They also had a 52 percent faster rate of refill of inhaled corticosteroids, the daily controller medication that helps keep inflammation at bay.
Those who got educational home visits reported on average fewer symptoms per month compared to children who received the informational booklet.
Children who got the informational pamphlet - the standard of care - had 12 percent more ED visits and 17 percent higher use of oral corticosteroids, a marker of an asthma flare-up, when compared to children from the other two groups.
"We compared several strategies to improve asthma control among children and, much to our delight, we found that taking a few simple steps can go a long way toward doing so," said senior investigator Dr Kristin Riekert, a pediatric psychologist at Hopkins and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Adherence Research Centre.
The study appears in journal Pediatrics.