Childhood asthma | St. Louis Public Radio

Childhood asthma

9-year-old Cenya Davis puffs on her inhaler in this 2018 file photo. The study followed more than 200 African American children in St. Louis, a demographic that is 10 times more likely to visit the hospital for asthma than white children.
File photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Some kids with mild asthma only need to use their inhalers when they have symptoms, according to research from Washington University.

That’s a major departure from traditional guidelines that recommend patients use their inhalers everyday, regardless of how they’re feeling. 

The study, which focused on African American children in St. Louis, found no difference in symptoms or lung function between kids who used their steroid inhalers everyday and those who used them as needed. Following an “as-needed” treatment strategy may help some patients cut down on the total amount of medicine they need to manage their asthma — and may reduce overall costs for low-income populations.

Cenya Davis puffs on her inhaler earlier this month. The 8-year-old student at Gateway Elementary School in St. Louis has been to the hospital three times for breathing trouble starting in December. She now regularly uses the inhaler.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

A Washington University study has shown that more than a dozen north St. Louis neighborhoods have high rates of childhood asthma. 

The study, soon to be published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, identified five ZIP codes in St. Louis that are hot spots for childhood asthma, meaning that they contain clusters for the city's highest rates of the illness. The report used census and health data from multiple government agencies.

The rate of hospitalizations for childhood asthma for those ZIP codes, which include downtown St. Louis, Baden and North Riverfront neighborhoods, are five times that of two ZIP codes in southwest St. Louis, which have the lowest presence of the illness.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 23, 2012 - Dr. Jane Garbutt may be on the trail of a complex and effective low-tech approach to helping parents do better jobs in handling asthma in their children.

Since 2008, she has headed up a large trial at Washington University to determine whether offering advice and recommendations through telephone calls from trained coaches might eventually help parents to manage the disease.