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ARTICLE
Year : 2002  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 221-225

Is childhood asthma underdiagnosed and undertreated?


Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, College of Medicine of the University of Lagos, P.M.B 12003, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
C N Okoromah
Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, College of Medicine of the University of Lagos, P.M.B 12003, Idi-Araba, Lagos
Nigeria
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


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Underdiagnosis of asthma may lead to inappropriate management including undertreatment, and consequently to high morbidity and mortality. This study aimed at determining the rates of diagnosis and treatment of childhood asthma among medical practitioners. Relevant information on 45 asthmatic children was collected using pre-tested questionnaires. There were 30 (66.7%) males and 15 (33.3%) females (M:F, 2:1). Mean age, average ages for onset of symptoms and diagnosis of asthma were 9.4 years, 1.8 years and 6.6 years respectively. An average of 4 previous medical consultations were undertaken for asthma symptoms, but only 11 (24.4%) cases were labeled as asthma. Alternative diagnostic labels including allergy, bronchitis (wheezy), pneumonia (chest infection), and tuberculosis, were used in 29 (64.4%). Five (11.1%) cases were unlabelled. Alternative labeling for asthma was associated with frequent usage of non-bronchodilator medications including antihistamines, antibiotics, antituberculous drugs, cough mixtures, and herbal concoctions. Only 15 (33.3%) cases received bronchodilators, rarely prescribed regularly in the absence of asthma label. This study reveals low diagnosis and treatment rates for asthma, emphasising the need to audit the management of childhood asthma among medical practitioners, with the view of providing information.


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