Asthma In Children Aged 0-14

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The population investigated in this essay are children and youth within Australia aged from 0 to 14 years old. This population group indicates a high prevalence for various health problems. These range from asthma, hay fever, and allergic rhinitis, anxiety-related problems and psychological development problems. The leading cause of disease burden among all children aged 5-14 is reported to be asthma (AIHW, 2020). Asthma is a common chronic condition of the airways, which causes episodes of wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and chest tightness due to widespread narrowing of the airways (AIHW, 2019). It is important to investigate the high prevalence of asthma in children as this affects the health of future generations to come. It was found that in 2017-2018, an estimated 10% of Australian children aged 0 to 14 years old were reported to have asthma as a long-term condition (AIHW, 2020). These results were similar in the years before (2007-2008) implicating that more emphasis should be made on this health condition. This essay will display the range of interrelated determinants that contribute to asthma in children ranging from social determinants to socioeconomic determinants and environmental determinants.

There are many pathways leading to the development of asthma. Associations with a range of social, genetic, behavioural and environmental determinants are thought to play a crucial role in the onset of asthma among children and youth in Australia. A family history of asthma is a predominant factor for childhood asthma as genetics shows that a mother who has asthma can pass on the gene to their newborn, hence raising their chance of asthma. A study done by Simon F. Thomsen displays results on the recurrence risk of asthma. Families with no history of asthma meant that children of those families had a 5% chance of having asthma during their lifetime, a 25% chance for children with one asthmatic parent and a 50% chance for those with two asthmatic parents (Simon F. Thomsen, 2015). Social factors are accountable for the high prevalence of childhood asthma. Components such as the life children are born into and the life, they are brought up in can impact their chances of obtaining asthma. Asthma among children, whose mothers smoked during their pregnancy are immense. In 2017 about 1 in 10 women who gave birth reported smoking during the first 20 weeks of their pregnancy (AIHW, 2020). Maternal smoking in pregnancy is the most important known modifiable risk factor for asthma (Angela Zacharasiewicz, 2016), it can cause harm to a foetus’ respiratory system which can lead to long term effects on their health. The consequences may not be apparent straight after birth but can arouse later in childhood around ages of 5 to 14 years old. Along with this, children who are exposed to second hand tobacco smoke in the household are at a higher risk of developing asthma or aggravating the already existing asthma.

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Asthma strains children who live in a household that are less economically disadvantaged due to poor quality housing. As a result of low socioeconomic status, families are living in houses that aren’t as equipped to have the best air quality. Examining the impact of damp housing and gas stoves on childhood asthma in Australia, it is reported that 26% of Australian homes are damp and that 38% use natural gas for cooking (Sly & Holt, 2018). The home is an important exposure site as children especially under the age of 14 spend most of their time home, hence why plays a crucial role in their health. Inadequate housing can foster indoor allergens through dampness such as mould or mites. Results from 2011 census indicate this as they state 7.9% of population asthma is contributed to damp housing (Sly & Holt, 2018). Due to the low socioeconomic status of families, parents aren’t as educated, hence why aren’t able lower the triggers of asthma in a child or prevent a child from getting asthma. Generally, children from less financially stable houses are more likely to consume polluted indoor air.

Environmental exposure to outdoor allergens and air pollution can be a marker for the onset of asthma in children aged 0-14 in Australia. Children who live near busy roads are more susceptible to be faced with harmful allergens and irritants which can cause them to develop asthma due to their immune systems not being strong enough. As discussed earlier, children spend majority of their time at home and indoors, yet the time at school and outdoors should also be considered. It is shown that an increase in daily background air pollution increases the risk of ED presentation of children for asthma (Pereira, Cook, De Vos & Homan, 2010). Moreover, children exposed to high levels of transport-related air pollutants can cause an onset of asthma which are evident around children’s environments such as schools where they spend majority of their time during their lives. The incidence of childhood asthma in Australia is amongst the highest in the world (Mind Foundation, 2020) as the road traffic increases. This is apparent through the strong evidence that an increase in outdoor NO2 concentrations are associated with an increase in the odds of current asthma in Australian children aged 7 to 11 years (Knibbs et al., 2018).

The essay confirms that social, socioeconomic and environmental determinants are all essential risk factors for the development and cause of asthma in children aged 0 to 14 in Australia. These determinants all contribute evenly to the development and cause of high asthma rates in children. Key points for reducing the prevalence of asthma in children are to ensure that maternal smoking along with second hand smoking is lowered, ensuring that more care is given to families that have a low socioeconomic status so they can provide their children with homes that have adequate air quality. Although, genetics play a major part in the progression of asthma in children, other factors surrounding children such as their environment are as important in order to keep numbers down.  


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