Children and Asthma

General Information

This pathfinder is designed to provide informational resources to parents or guardians of children living with asthma.

What is Asthma?

According to the American Lung Association, Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the airways with reversible episodes of obstruction, caused by an increased reaction of the airways to various stimuli. Asthma breathing problems usually happen in “episodes” or attacks but the inflammation underlying asthma is continuous. Signs and symptoms usually include wheezing, frequent coughing, respiratory infections (pneumonia or bronchitis), chest tightness, and shortness of breath.

How does it affect children and their parents?

Asthma is the leading cause of chronic illness in children. It affects as many as 10%-12% of children in the U.S. and, for unknown reasons, is steadily increasing. It can begin at any age, but most children have their first symptoms by age 5. Childhood asthma is a disorder with genetic predispositions and a strong allergic component. Approximately 75 to 80 percent of children with asthma have significant allergies.

Dealing with this disease can be very stressful for children and their parents. The purpose of this pathfinder is to provide accessible resources to parents about their child’s asthma that will help them cope with this disease and become more knowledgeable about what asthma is. This resource guide is not intended to replace any medical information or advice that may be received from a qualified health provider or physician. The information provided here is based on the research collected by a librarian, and it should be used in addition to the advice or recommendations of a qualified health professional.

Internet Resources


The following websites will provide parents with a variety of information pertaining to their child’s asthma.

Kids and Asthma (http://www.kidsandasthma.com/)
Kids and Asthma is an online resource for information about asthma signs and symptoms, and current asthma treatment options for children. It provides multimedia programs and articles that feature health professionals discussing how children with asthma can best lead healthy lives. Also, the heath tips included on the website can help parents learn how to create an environment free of asthma triggers. The site is authored by a company called Healthology, a “producer and distributor of physician-generated health and medical information on the Internet,” and its content has received Health on the Net Foundation HONcode certification, verifying its authority.

No Attacks (http://www.noattacks.org/)
No Attacks is an online resource that provides information to parents about things that may cause an asthma attack. It gives information on possible asthma triggers that may be found in the home, and different methods of preventing asthma attacks. The site is sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ad Council.

Asthma Now (http://www.asthmanow.net/)
AsthmaNow brings together information and resources to educate and support everyone in with an interest in asthma. It provides very useful information for parents and children on how to manage this disease and cope with the stresses of it. AsthamNow is the result of a collaboration of the NH Asthma Control Program. American Lung Association of NH, Southern NH Area Health Education Center, and Chronic Conditions Information Network.

The Children’s Asthma Education Centre (http://www.asthma-education.com/content/)
The Children’s Asthma Education Centre provides education to children and their families and develops and assesses new strategies for education. Included in this website is information on how to properly use asthma control equipments with children, how to manage asthma attacks, and the proper way to exercise. The Children’s Asthma Education Centre “is a program of the Department of Pediatrics and Child Heath at the Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg.”

Asthma Initiative of Michigan (AIM) (http://www.getasthmahelp.org/)
Parents and guardians will find the Asthma Initiative of Michigan (AIM) website useful for finding information on how to explain asthma to their child. Also included on this website is general information about childhood asthma and how to prepare these children for school life.

EVERYDAYKIDZ is a website that is dedicated to supplying parents and guardians with tools that they will need to understand their child’s asthma, and how to make their child understand the disease. It also provides information on treatment options, management of asthma through the seasons, and tips to help prevent asthma attacks. Be aware that the site is owned by a pharmaceutical company called AstraZeneca. Our listing of this website is not an endorsement of AstraZeneca or its products.

Key Search Phrases and Online Databases and Search Engines

The following search terms and statements can be used to navigate through various search engines to locate more information on this topic. They are:

Children and asthma
Asthma in children
Pediatric asthma
Asthma triggers for children
Childhood asthma
Asthma prevention in children
Parental information on childhood asthma

The above search phrases can be used to find additional information on the topic with the medical databases and search engines below:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/)

National Library of Medicine (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/)

Medicine Net (http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/hp.asp)

Medline Plus (http://medlineplus.gov/)

PubMed (http://www.pubmed.gov/)

Healthline (http://www.healthline.com/)

Other Pathfinders on the Internet Public Library

Parents and guardians may also find the following research guides of the IPL useful when researching information on children and asthma:

IPL: Medical Sources and InformationPathfinder (/div/pf/entry/48501)
Parents could use this pathfinder to locate additional internet and print medical sources for the subject of childhood asthma.

IPL: Stress Management Pathfinder (archived) (/div/pfarch/entry/81371)
This guide could be used by parents to find more information on how to deal with stress when faced with difficult situations such as an asthmatic child.

IPL: Nutrition Pathfinder (archived) (/div/pfarch/entry/81361)
With this guide, parents and guardians of children with asthma may find nutritional information for their children that will be useful for their proper growth and well-being.

Print Resources


There are numerous good books for parents about dealing with their child’s asthma. Provided below is a list of titles that may be useful to every parent or guardian of an asthmatic child, and they may be found in your local library or bookstore.

Positive Options for Children with Asthma: Everything Parents Need to Know
By: O. P. Jaggi
ISBN: 0897934539
Positive Options for Children with Asthma helps parents better understand and cope with the frightening disease of asthma. The book offers advice on creating a safe, allergen-free environment, recognizing warning signs, reducing the intensity of attacks, and reviews the various diagnostic procedures, medications, and treatment options available. Most importantly, parents learn how they can play a key role in preventing and managing asthma attacks.

Everything Parents Guide to Children with Asthma: Professional Advice to Help Your Child Manage Symptoms, Be More Active, and Breathe Better
By: Jance C. Simmons
ISBN: 1598694308
This book contains information and advice from health care providers on how to deal with a child’s asthma. It also includes new National Institute of Health Guidelines for this disease among children.

Kids Breathe Free: A Parents Guide for Treating Children With Asthma
By: Pritchett and Hull Associates
ISBN: 093983846X
Kids Breathe Free provides general information for parents on how to treat children with asthma. Advice on medical and non-medical treatments may be found in this book.

Children with Asthma: A Manual for Parents
By: Thomas F. Plaut
ISBN: 0914625217
Children with Asthma emphasizes the importance of the parent’s role in asthma management. It teaches the basics of asthma, how medicines work and when to call for help. It includes sections on infants, children and teenagers, and contains stories by parents as well as illustrations, tables and instructions.

Living With Asthma: A Guide for Parents and Children
By: Margaret O. Hyde
ISBN: 0613260430
Living With Asthma is a completely up-to-date guide that provides a wealth of valuable information about the physical and emotional aspects of asthma, which can help sufferers and their families and friends better understand the condition.

What your doctor may not tell you about children’s allergies and asthma: Simple Steps to Help Stop Attacks and Improve Your Child’s Health
By: Paul Ehrlich and Larry Chiaramonte
ISBN: 0446679887
Written by two allergy and asthma specialists, this book explains to parents how to diagnose and treat their child’s allergy and asthma problems. In this book, parents will also learn why children with allergies are sometimes misdiagnosed as having other ailments, how to use alternative treatments and holistic remedies, simple methods to allergy-proof their homes and pets and the 10 things parents do that make their children’s allergy symptoms worse.

Natural Relief for Your Child’s Asthma: A Guide to Controlling Symptoms & Reducing Your Child’s Dependence on Drugs
By: Steven J. Bock, M.D., Kenneth Bock, M.D., and Nancy P. Bruning
ISBN: 006095289X
Natural Relief for Your Child’s Asthma is a book for parents and guardians of children with asthma that supplements conventional approaches of treating asthma with effective and proven natural remedies. The will show parents how to reduce attacks by dealing with the underlying causes, identify foods that can trigger attacks, help your child’s body heal itself, and build a treatment and prevention program tailored to their child’s needs.

What You Really Need To Know About Caring For A Child With Asthma
By: Rob Buckman and John Cleese
ISBN: 1840282533
This book explores the causes of asthma in children and helps ease parents’ fears by explaining causes and symptoms, assessment and diagnosis, prevention and treatment, and what parents can do in order to care for their child on a day to day basis.

To search for these books and other books on this subject in your local public library, the following may also be helpful:

Dewey Decimal Classification System

615 – Pharmacology & therapeutics, prescription drugs
615.5 – Therapeutics
615.8 – Specific therapies and kinds of therapies
616 – Diseases
616.2 – Diseases of the respiratory system
618.9 – Pediatrics and geriatrics

Library of Congress Classification System

RJ 1-570 – Pediatrics
RJ 52-53 – Therapeutics
RJ 101-103 – Child Health. Child Health Services
RJ 370-550 – Diseases of Children and Adolescents

Organizations and Associations

Here are a list of organizations and associations that are geared towards helping those who suffer from asthma and their families, and offer support to them. They also provide additional information for parents on children with asthma.

American Lung Association (http://www.lungusa.org/)
61 Broadway, 6th Floor
New York, New York 10006
1-800-LUNGUSA or 212-315-8700

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (http://www.aafa.org/)
1233 20th Street, NW
Suite 402
Washington, DC 20036
1.800.7.ASTHMA (1.800.727.8462)

This pathfinder was created by Raishara D. Nelson, Florida State University for LIS5916, Virtual Reference Environments, Dr. Lorri Mon, Florida State University, Fall 2007.