Take Care of Yourself This Fall!

October 9, 2009 at 4:21 pm Leave a comment

Fall is one of my favourite times of the year. I love getting outside and taking photos of the changing leaves and breathing in the crisp air. And of course, there is always the sensational Thanksgiving dinner to look forward to…Now I am really excited for this weekend!

Unfortunately, the beginning of fall also means damp and cloudy days, especially in Vancouver. For our asthma-sufferers the falling leaves signal the beginning of an uncomfortable season.

With over 500 visits per year, clinic staff at BC Children’s Asthma Education Clinic are  busy year-round but used to seeing a spike in referrals to their clinic at this time of year. With kids returning to school, spending more time indoors, and having greater exposure to mold and viruses like flu, the clinic will see many children and their families from fall into the winter months.

“Eighty to 90 per cent of our referrals come from the BC Children’s Emergency department,” says Ingrid Baerg, asthma educator at BC Children’s Hospital’s Asthma Education Clinic.     (stats and quotes courtesy of BC Children’s Hospital Communications Department)

BC Children’s Hospital, in conjunction with the Child & Family Research Institute are fighting back and trying to find out more about asthma and how they can help care for kids with the disease.

Here is an article, originally published in Speaking of Children magazine that explains what cutting edge research is being done in this area.

Tracing a New EpidemicResearch - Asthma 2

Researchers at the Child & Family Research Institute launch a new study to find out why asthma and allergies have reached epidemic proportions among today’s kids.

by Terra Scheer

“We try to live a normal life, but asthma and allergies stop him from doing a lot of things,” says Graciala Leon of her son Jean Paul Mata Leon.  Asthma is more than an inconvenience for the nine-year-old; on several occasions it has threatened his life. Twice this year alone, he has wound up in BC Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit with severely inflamed lungs.

“It’s well accepted that more children have allergies and asthma than past generations, but the medical profession still doesn’t understand why,” says Dr. Stuart Turvey, a researcher at the Child & Family Research Institute at Children’s. “Up to 15 per cent of children today have asthma and something has happened in the way we live to cause this epidemic.”

Dr. Turvey is a member of the research institute’s Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases research program. He is also a leading member of the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development Study. This allergy study, the biggest of its kind in Canada, will follow 5,000 Canadian women through their pregnancies and until their children are five years old.

To better understand the environmental and psychological factors that may cause a child to develop asthma and allergies, researchers will catalogue everything from the presence of dust, air quality and the type of home heating system, to environmental influences in the neighbourhood, and stress on mom and child. “We’re approaching this study with a holistic and integrated view of disease, recognizing that children aren’t born into a sterile world,” says Dr. Turvey.

As Dr. Turvey and his colleagues gather data that will eventually lead to a better understanding of asthma, Jean Paul and others must learn to contend with their conditions. “He has to be careful visiting friends’ houses, he eats a special diet, and uses an inhaler every day, twice a day,” says Graciala. “He stays home sick a lot, which is hard on both of us.”

In time, Dr. Turvey’s research may shed light on the prevention of asthma and on what makes a healthy home environment. Ideally, it will help future generations of kids live without fear of asthma attacks.

Be safe and have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.


Entry filed under: Super Community.

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