Asthma is the third major cause of hospitalization in children under age 15. The condition can be very serious in children, particularly those younger than age 5, because their airways are very narrow.
Asthma death rates have steadily declined and it now is rarely fatal in children Even low mortality numbers are unacceptable, however, since asthma deaths are largely preventable.
Factors associated with an increased risk of death from asthma in children include:
African-American children have more than six times the death rate of Caucasians in the age groups of 4 years and younger and 15 - 24 years. Hispanic children also have a higher risk.
Some children outgrow their asthma by adulthood. In general, the more severe the childhood asthma, the greater the likelihood that it will persist. There is evidence that severe asthma can cause long-lasting damage and possibly permanent scarring in some patients. The risk for such injury is highest when asthma strikes children in their first 3 - 5 years. There does not appear to be any significant risk for long-term lung damage for children who develop mild-to-moderate persistent asthma between ages 5 - 12. Children adapt well to living with asthma, and even with severe asthma they can function as well as healthy children in virtually all areas of life.
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