Parents and teachers are being warned to prepare for a surge in asthma emergencies when children return to classrooms for the start of the 2014 school year.

The National Asthma Council Australia says that the 1 in 10 school children with asthma face a significant increase in the risk of asthma attacks and hospitalisation during the first few weeks of the school term.

“The ‘February Epidemic’ is well documented both here and overseas, with a big asthma spike in children immediately after school goes back,” National Asthma Council Australia Chief Executive Officer Kristine Whorlow said.

“This is caused by increased exposure to cold and flu viruses when children return to classrooms and factors such as stress, a change of environment or allergens and less strict asthma management over the holidays.”

Studies in Australia and the UK have shown asthma hospitalisations surge during the first month of the school year, with cases in Australia rising as much as threefold in children aged five to 14 years and doubling in preschoolers. While increased risks have also been recorded at the start of subsequent school terms, the February spike is by far the most significant.

To minimise the impact of this year’s back to school asthma spike, the National Asthma Council Australia is urging parents to make sure that their child has an up-to-date written asthma action plan prepared by their doctor.

Parents should also ensure their child: • Gets back into their asthma routine before the school year starts, including taking preventer medications every day if prescribed • Has a reliever puffer and spacer packed in their school bag – check that the puffer isn’t empty or out of date • Knows how to use their reliever puffer and spacer by themselves (if old enough) or with help • Feels comfortable asking for help or telling their teacher if they are getting asthma symptoms

Ms Whorlow recommended parents give the school or childcare a copy of their child’s asthma action plan and tell staff if their child requires help with taking medication. A copy should also be given to anyone who regularly has the child in their care, such as grandparents or sports coaches.

“It’s important that preventer medications are taken, when prescribed, and that both children and carers are familiar with their reliever medication and know how to use it correctly,” Ms Whorlow said. “Taking these preventative measures before and during the first few weeks of school can go a long way to helping keep children with asthma out of hospital.”


  • Dusts and pollens that have entered the buildings during long vacancy. the smell of other peoples’ scents, deodorants, soap residue, foods and many other products can trigger severe hayfever or asthma attacks. I know of one who is allergic to scents in ordinary hand soaps, mild toilet cleaner, Laundry Detergents and countless other products.


  • Ive always been afraid of my kids developing asthma, as it can such a scary condition. I think in addition to the things this article suggests parents of asthma sufferers do, there should be more general awareness raising and education so the whole school community and general public are more prepared to help in an emergency and also in prevention etc.


  • Really can be scary when your little one suffers asthma, especially during this time of the year.


  • Great time to go to the Gp and make sure you have a up to date asthma plan


  • it is a good time to go over your asthma plan too


  • Asthma is so common nowadays that sometimes people can forget how serious it can get.


  • Not a good time of year


  • Good read thanks for the information


  • My baby girl has asthma and she is 2.5yrs old and has to have her puffers 3 times a day it’s really bad and at times I feel so helpless.


  • i myself have suffered asthma all of my life. Such a common condition can be life threatening so quickly


  • my daughter has what they say is mild asthma and I always feel for those who have chronic asthama at such a young age


  • such a scary time when you have a little one with asthma


  • some good advice to follow


  • lucky my daughter doesnt have asthma


  • now i am worried . .


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