Fort Worth, Texas,
12:07 PM

Can my child die from asthma? Yes.

Why kids must follow an asthma plan.

The frustration on Karen Schultz’s, M.D., face tells the story.

Dr. Schultz is a pulmonologist at Cook Children’s. She teaches children and parents how to control their asthma, but there’s only so much she can do once they leave her.

When children don’t follow their asthma plan, it can be extremely dangerous --even fatal. Every day, nine people die from asthma in the United States and 36,000 children miss school due to asthma-related complications.

What bothers Dr. Schultz is that so often these deaths are a result of patients not following through on their treatment.

“It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen. Even with all the medications and treatments we have to help children with asthma,” Dr. Schultz said. “One of the big things that lead to children being ill or even death is non-compliance with the medications they should be taking.”

She said she often sees teenagers with a false sense of security because they haven’t had an asthma attack for a while. The reason is because their medication and treatment is working. But the teen forgets why they are doing well and stops taking the medication.

“They think their asthma is better or it’s gone,” Dr. Schultz said. “But it’s just being treated and it’s working. They stop their medications and the kid gets sick really fast.”

Dr. Schultz said it’s important for parents to keep up with their children to make sure they are taking care of themselves. She’s disturbed at the lack of responsibilities some parents have in their children’s treatment.

“Some parents aren’t as good at monitoring their children as others,” Dr. Schultz said. “If mom doesn’t refill the medicine, then the child isn’t going to get it. Some parents think that an 8 year old should be responsible enough to manage his or her own medicine. Teenagers should be taking more responsibility by taking their medicine, but that’s an age when developmentally they think they are invincible. They just don’t take it. As parents, you have to make them take it.

“It’s very frustrating. As parents, you put the pill in front of them and make them take it. It’s just that simple.”