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Parents Beware: Asthma Apps Aren't All the Same

Maryland's asthma rate is higher than the national average. (Virginia Carter)
Maryland's asthma rate is higher than the national average. (Virginia Carter)
June 20, 2016

BALTIMORE, Md. - A team of doctors has developed the first mobile 'app' designed to help children and teens with asthma that is supported by a peer-reviewed pilot study. That scientific backup is especially important because doctors say not all medical 'apps' deliver what they promise.

Dr. David Stukus, assistant professor of pediatrics at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, says every 20 seconds in this country, someone, usually a child is rushed to an emergency room because of asthma.

"Asthma can be frightening for parents, especially for younger children who can't always verbalize what they may be feeling," says Stukus. "So, with the AsthmaCare app, we hope we can give them confidence to help really control their disease and make sure that they administer medications for asthma on a consistent basis."

The AsthmaCare app sends reminders to take medications and allows patients to create and store an emergency plan. It has a symptom diary, and provides links to area pollen stations, to make users aware of allergen levels in the air.

It is free for downloading from the Nationwide Children's Hospital website, for iPad, iPhone and Android devices.

Stukus says there are a lot of asthma apps, but he warns parents to make sure they're actually giving legitimate advice.

"The hard part is nobody's regulating the apps that are out there, so anybody can just produce an app and put it out there for somebody to find," Stukus says. "And that means that the apps may have variable quality, some of which may not be evidence-based."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Maryland, 9.4 percent of adults have asthma, compared to a national rate of just over eight percent.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD