Conditions + Treatments

Asthma in Children

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Contact the Asthma Program

  • 617-355-6117

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic condition that causes the airways in the lungs to narrow and swell, making it difficult to breath. Every-day triggers in the environment, such as weather, dust, chemicals, smoke and pet dander, create an even greater sensitivity for asthma sufferers.

As the most common chronic medical condition among children in the U.S., asthma often is the reason why children are seen in the emergency department or admitted to the hospital. It's also the most common reason why children are absent from school.

What is severe asthma?

When your child has daily asthma symptoms or frequent severe episodes of asthma (exacerbations) that are not preventable with traditional treatment — or that require very high doses of these medications — they may have a specific type of asthma called severe asthma. Children with severe asthma may need evaluation and treatment by a team of multiple specialists.

How we care for asthma in children

For the outpatient diagnosis and treatment of asthma, in addition to your primary care provider, Boston Children’s Hospital has two specialty departments that can help — the Division of Allergy and Immunology and the Division of Respiratory Diseases. We often work together to treat your child depending on her need and contributing causes of her asthma.

The Division of Allergy and Immunology evaluates and treats children with asthma, caused by various allergic disorders to inhaled particles, food, insect stings and drugs, with approaches ranging from oral and inhaled medications to immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots, or allergen desensitization). We also do skin testing to determine what your child is allergic to.

The Division of Respiratory Diseases evaluates and treats children with asthma and evaluates contributing factors that may make asthma difficult to treat. We use breathing tests (pulmonary function tests or PFTs) to evaluate asthma and response to therapies and exercise testing for exercise-induced respiratory symptoms. In some circumstances, we perform diagnostic procedures (bronchoscopy) to view the airways and collect samples from the lung to better direct therapies.

For children with severe asthma, we have a Severe Asthma Program consisting of multiple specialists, a nurse and social worker that see patients as a team, contributing different perspectives to develop a customized treatment plan. For children that live outside of the area, after evaluating your child and developing a treatment plan, we are able to work with your local specialist to carry out the plan.

Boston Children’s is so much more than a hospital—it’s a community of researchers, clinicians, administrators, support staff, innovators, teachers, patients and families, all working together to make the impossible possible. ”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
For Patients: 617-355-6000
For Referring Providers: 844-BCH-PEDS | 844-224-7337