Using better information
to give children better
Alberta has all the elements needed
to care for kids with asthma, but
those elements are not always linked
together. Debby Waldman looks at
how AiHS researcher Andrew Cave is
finding ways to coordinate treatment
and improve health
Matthew Green was diagnosed with asthma when
he was two. Over the years, he faithfully used the inhaler
his doctor prescribed, but he could never keep up with his
peers on the playground. A hockey player, he fell asleep
after games because he had no energy for anything else.
Earlier this year, tests showed that his lungs were
operating at only 60 per cent (similar to those of an adult
with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and his
medication was changed. His parents saw immediate
results: Matthew, now 11, is more active, sleeps better and
his mood has improved.
Matthew Green (not his real name) isn’t alone. Of the
roughly 15 per cent of Alberta children with asthma,
about half are misdiagnosed, underdiagnosed or
That costs everyone: children miss school, parents miss
work to care for them, and the health-care system faces
repeat emergency department and doctor visits.
Asthma can be controlled through proper treatment.
Asthma medications, which are usually given in inhalers,
fall into two categories. Preventers, which contain steroids,
Photo: People images