Childhood asthma

Why is it important?

Asthma is the most common long term medical condition among children and young people in the UK. It is the most common reason for urgent admissions to hospital in children and young people in England.

Unfortunately there are still a small number of avoidable deaths in children and young people from asthma every year. The UK has third highest risk of death from childhood asthma in  the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nations.

Asthma can cause coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and breathlessness.

The severity of these symptoms varies from person to person. Asthma can be controlled well in most people most of the time, although some people may have more persistent problems.

Occasionally, asthma symptoms can get gradually or suddenly worse. This is known as an “asthma attack”, although doctors sometimes use the term “exacerbation”.

Severe attacks may require hospital treatment and can be life threatening, although this is unusual.

Key facts

  • 1 million children in the UK receiving treatment for asthma
  • 24,744 emergency admissions for asthma in 2014
  • 21 children under 14 years died from asthma in 2012
  • Preventable factors in 90% of childhood deaths from asthma
  • Less than 25% of children with asthma have a Personalised Asthma Action Plan (PAAP).
  • Nearly half have had an asthma attack in the previous year.
  • 30% have had daytime symptoms in the previous week.

What is NHS England doing to improve care and outcomes for children and young people living with asthma?

National Paediatric Asthma Collaborative

NHS England has brought together a wide range of clinicians, commissioners and voluntary sector organisations into the National Paediatric Asthma Collaborative to work collectively on improving asthma care and support for children with asthma.

The collaborative has performed a review of existing services and their effectiveness, highlighting and sharing good practice, and outlining deficiencies at a national level. This learning has been incorporated into the following resources:


This interactive asthma education resource is for healthcare professionals of all disciplines. Called “e-asthma”, it will help to improve the diagnosis and management of asthma as a long term condition for both children and adults.

Healthy London Partnership – asthma toolkit

NHS England has worked in collaboration with the Healthy London Partnership to develop an asthma toolkit which supports healthcare professionals, schools, parents, carers, children and young people to improve care across the system for children and young people with asthma.

Severe Asthma Database

Severe asthma is a type of asthma that affects less than 5% of people with asthma. Someone with severe asthma has difficulty breathing almost all of the time, and often has serious asthma attacks. Severe asthma isn’t simply ‘asthma when it’s really bad’, or an extreme form of asthma – it’s a specific type of asthma which requires specialist care and support.

NHS England has commissioned the development of a severe paediatric asthma database to collect vital information that will help support improvements in severe asthma care.

Find out more

If your organisation is involved in children’s Asthma projects please contact If you would like to know more about the work of the national team, please contact

View key resources designed to support improvements in pediatric asthma care.