ASTHMA attacks triple for children in wales when they go back to school – new figures show a 210% increase in hospital admissions for asthma attacks after school holidays

The number of children in Wales hospitalised for asthma attacks triples when they return to school after the summer holidays, according to new analysis by Asthma UK.

Most recent figures show a 210% increase in hospital admissions in September, when children return to school, compared to the previous month.[1] Asthma UK is now urging parents of children with asthma in Wales to be on high alert to spot the warning signs before an asthma attack strikes.

Children are at a much greater risk of having a potentially fatal asthma attack when they go back to school. This may be because the lack of routine over the summer holidays means parents might not always remember to give their child their preventer medicine. This is vital because the medicine builds up over time, helping to protect the airways. Forgetting to take preventer medicine leaves them exposed to having asthma attacks triggered by cold and flu viruses.

58,000 children in Wales have asthma[2], a condition which can leave people struggling to breathe. Asthma UK is calling on parents of children with asthma to follow its advice on how to spot an approaching asthma attack and understand what to do to avoid it.

Dr Andy Whittamore, Clinical Lead at Asthma UK says: “Going back to school should be an exciting time for children, but many could end up in hospital fighting for life after an asthma attack. This is extremely distressing for a child and their parent. It could be avoided if parents know how to spot their child’s asthma is getting worse and know what to do if their child is having an asthma attack.

“Parents should not feel afraid to book an urgent appointment with the GP or asthma nurse if their child is using their reliever inhaler (usually blue) three or more times a week, coughing or wheezing at night or feeling out of breath and struggling to keep up with their friends. They can find information and support at”

Rich Cook, 40, a local government officer from Cwmbran, South Wales knows first-hand how going back to school can increase a child’s chance of having an asthma attack. Harry, was hospitalised after he had an asthma attack last September when he was five-years-old. He said: “It was terrifying to receive a call from my son’s school to say he was having an asthma attack. Teachers had tried to give him his reliever inhaler, but it had gone past the point of helping and he was rushed straight to hospital. No parent ever wants to see their child in intensive care saying to them ‘Daddy, am I going to die?’

“Harry’s asthma attack came on so suddenly as when I dropped him off at school he was his normal happy self. The next time I saw him he was in hospital fighting for his life.

“Harry now takes his preventer medication daily, which has kept him out of hospital. I want to urge other parents to get support and advice from Asthma UK, especially at this time of the year when children are at more risk of an asthma attack. It could be a case of life and death.”

These are the warning signs that a child’s asthma symptoms are getting worse:

• Puffing on their reliever inhaler (usually blue) three or more times a week.

• Coughing and/or wheezing at night or in the early mornings.

• Breathlessness – if they’re pausing for breath when talking or struggling to keep up with friends.

• They might say their tummy or chest hurts.

Asthma UK is advising parents to familiarise themselves - and anyone who looks after their child - with what to do if their child’s symptoms are getting worse:

• Give two to four puffs of their reliever inhaler, through a spacer. Space the puffs out so there are 30-60 seconds between them. If their symptoms don’t get better or if their reliever inhaler isn’t lasting four hours, follow our asthma attack advice below.

• Make a same-day appointment with your child's GP.

• If the surgery is closed call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 or 111 if available in your area:

• If you have any questions, call our asthma nurses for advice on 0300 222 5800 (Mon – Fri; 9am – 5pm). You can also visit our child asthma advice:

Asthma attack advice

If a child's symptoms get worse quickly, call 999:

1. While you wait for the ambulance, help them sit up and give a puff of their reliever inhaler every 30-60 seconds - you can give them up to 10 puffs.

2. You can repeat step 1 every 15 minutes while you are waiting for the ambulance.

For further information on how to protect your child when they’re back in school this September, visit or call the Asthma UK Helpline on 0300 222 5800 (Mon – Fri; 9am – 5pm) to speak to an asthma nurse. Parents can also speak to our asthma nurses by calling 0300 222 5800 or by messaging 07378 606 728 on WhatsApp.