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Only a third of parents with premature babies are "aware" of bronchiolitis

The survey commissioned by Abbott, the global healthcare company, to coincide with the second year of the national bronchiolitis awareness campaign, explored parents' knowledge of the condition.

Bronchiolitis affects one in three babies in the UK. It is a seasonal condition which usually occurs in the winter months between October and March.  It is caused by an inflammation of the tiny air passages deep inside the lungs, which causes breathing difficulties. This is often confused with bronchitis, which affects the main airways in the lungs. While the majority of bronchiolitis cases are serious, babies born prematurely or with heart or lung conditions are at greater risk of more severe complications.

The survey involving 1,973 parents aged 18-40 years old with a child under five also revealed that despite its prevalence only one in ten parents associate the characteristic symptoms of severe bronchiolitis - namely the rasping cough, faster breathing, loss of appetite and high temperature - with the condition. Many parents continue to confuse the tell-tale signs of bronchiolitis with those of the common cold or flu.

The symptoms of bronchiolitis can be very similar to a cold; however, babies with more severe bronchiolitis exhibit four symptoms (F.A.C.T), the most significant of which is a distinctive rasping cough:

Fast breathing: shallow, quick breaths not taking in much air

Appetite: inability to feed

Cough: distinctive rasping cough

Temperature: high temperature, usually with cold-like symptoms such as a    runny nose


Dr Shree Vishna Rasiah, a consultant neonatologist at Birmingham Women’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust says: “Whilst today’s research suggests that hospitalisation rates for bronchiolitis are rising, awareness remains low, even among parents of high-risk babies. Education and prevention are the only way to reduce the number of babies presenting to hospital with breathing and feeding difficulties during the winter season.”

“I would advise all parents of young infants, particularly those with premature babies, to practice simple prevention methods at home such as good hand hygiene, regular washing of toys and keeping babies away from older children and adults with cold and flu like symptoms. These measures would reduce the risk of a baby getting bronchiolitis. In babies with bronchiolitis, it is important to be vigilant and seek medical advice early if there are concerns about the worsening breathing and feeding difficulties.”

Additionally, according to the results of another NOP survey, commissioned by Abbott in 20115 and released today, the wider impact of bronchiolitis on families is also significant.  Nearly two-thirds (63%) of parents whose child had had bronchiolitis said they needed to take time off work to care for them and almost a third (31%) reported taking one to two weeks off work – mostly unpaid. Half of these parents said their child had been hospitalised for the condition and that bronchiolitis had placed moderate-to-severe stress on their relationship with their partner and/or family.

Abbott commissioned both surveys as part of its ongoing More Than A Cold campaign, announcing the results to mark the start of the bronchiolitis season – a time when paediatric intensive care units across the country brace themselves for the “rush hour” traditional winter peak in activity.

The awareness campaign is being supported by the

website, which provides parents with accessible information about bronchiolitis.


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