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Tuesday, 6 September 2005

The Quickest Way To Assess Asthma In Children

New equipment at Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick is being used to more rapidly detect asthma in children, as well as its level of severity and how well treatment is working.

Asthma in children can be poorly assessed and poorly treated often because of a lack of suitable tools to measure the process.

A Nitric Oxide Analyser, or Niox machine, measures the nitric oxide concentration in the exhaled breath of children, and this is the key to the machine’s success in asthma detection and treatment. Asthma and hay fever comprise a special type of inflammation that produces identifiable levels of nitric oxide that can be measured by the Niox machine.

It is the only machine in Australia being used exclusively on children. Its purchase by the Respiratory Medicine team at Sydney Children’s Hospital was courtesy of a generous donation of funds from Nicole Kidman.

“This turns out to be a much more sensitive way of detecting the severity of the process, more so than the conventional lung function testing and much more accurate than the stethoscope,” said Dr John Morton, Head of Respiratory Medicine at Sydney Children’s Hospital.

The machine can not only help in determining whether a child has asthma and it’s level of severity, but can also indicate if the child is taking their medicine and how adequate their level of treatment is.

The Niox machine has also been used in research by the Respiratory Medicine Unit at Sydney Children’s Hospital as a guide to the efficiency of new treatments.

“We are just in the process of establishing normal values of Nitric Oxide for Australian kids. This type of machine means that each child’s asthma can be accurately assessed and treated,” said Dr Morton.

National Asthma Week begins Thursday 1 September to Wednesday 7 September.

For Further Information Contact:

Iain Robinson, Public Affairs Department on (02) 9382 3578 or 0404 001 722.

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