News in brief: Childhood wheeze and asthma related to maternal risk factors; Respiratory and sleep physician numbers revealed; Taskforce to build community pharmacist respiratory network

Tuesday, 23 Nov 2021

Childhood wheeze and asthma related to maternal risk factors

Maternal asthma during pregnancy, smoking during pregnancy, and pre-pregnancy obesity are significantly associated with increased risks of wheezing and asthma among Australian children 0-15 years.

However only maternal asthma during pregnancy was associated with childhood eczema, according to data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC).

“Significant risk of exposure was evident when the children were infants, aged 4–7 years, and again during adolescence at 10–13 years of age.”

“The age at onset of wheezing, asthma or eczema shows a pattern in our study with increasing prevalence in early childhood and decreasing prevalence during adolescents.”

“Our findings suggest that careful medical and obstetric monitoring, improved specific age-sex wise risk factor prevention where wheezing, asthma and eczema effect children and health promotion for pregnant women and children by the policy makers are highly warranted and may help protect child health.”

Read more in Archives of Public Health

Respiratory and sleep physician numbers revealed by AHPRA

Australia has 859 medical practitioners registered in the specialist physician category of respiratory and sleep medicine field of practice, according to the latest statistics on medical registration released by AHPRA.

The figures, covering 2021, show that numbers of respiratory physicians have increased significantly in the last five years, from 652 in 2016. As well as the 859 adult medicine respiratory physicians there are also 55 specialist physicians registered in the speciality name of Paediatrics and Child Health in the respiratory and sleep medicine field of practice.

The specialist respiratory and sleep physicians include 15 in the ACT, 275 NSW, 4 in the Northern Territory, 163 in Queensland, 68 in South Australia, 16 in Tasmania, 222 in Victoria and 85 in WA, as well as 11 with no specified state.

Overall, there are 130,476 registered medical practitioners in total in Australia, and 11,114 practitioners registered as specialists.

Taskforce to build community pharmacist respiratory network

Respiratory physicians will help steer a new Respiratory Pharmacy Task Force, established by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, to ensure community pharmacists are better supported to educate people about respiratory conditions, support correct medication use and identify those high risk patients who need additional medical care.

The task force is chaired by Woolcock Institute of Medical Research respiratory pharmacist Professor Sinthia Bosnic-Anticevich and is made up of leaders within the pharmacy profession, consumers, respiratory physicians, GPs, and representatives from the Lung Foundation Australia, National Asthma Council and Asthma Australia.

The Taskforce will meet over the next two years to focus on asthma management in pharmacies initially and then extend to COPD.

Professor Sinthia Bosnic-Anticevich says the taskforce will also establish a national network of community of respiratory pharmacist experts who can communicate key messages around asthma and COPD and support education initiatives across Australia.

“For many people with asthma and COPD, a pharmacist is the health professional they see more than any other. Our plan is to utilise that treatment opportunity far better than we have before,” she said.

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