In New Zealand, the death of Wainuiomata toddler due to a respiratory disease that continuously grows has doctors worried.
According to a report from Stuff, Two-year-old Ataahua Journey Harris-Timoti of Wainuiomata died on February 3 after a battle with bronchiectasis—a condition which causes mucus to build up in the lungs and leads to ongoing infections.
“Current statistics show a new diagnosis is handed out from Starship Hospital every 10 days,” said Dr Cass Byrnes, respiratory paediatrician at the hospital.
Bronchiectasis claims the life of one New Zealander aged 14 or under every 18 months, said Dr. Byrnes.
Those most at risk are children in poor areas, those who reside in overcrowded housing, or who don’t have adequate access to healthcare, she said.
“Ataahua Journey Harris-Timoti died after a near-three year battle with bronchiectasis, which required her to be on oxygen 24 hours a day.” Photo credit: Stuff.co.nz
“It’s the poor housing and it’s the overcrowding and it’s the cold. Kids aren’t getting access to care.”
Between 2000 and 2013, the hospitalization figure jumped to 30 percent, which has massive implications on social costs.
“It’s incredibly costly. These children are not admitted overnight, many of them are admitted for two weeks, and I think a hospital admission cost is about $2000 a day. It’s huge,” she added.
There is a dire need for better awareness for the disease, Dr. Byrnes said. Early intervention makes the difference between life and death.
Unfortunately, “by the time kids are being referred through—it’s two years down the track, so by the time we’re diagnosing the kids with this lung scarring, they’re already really severe.”
What is Bronchiectasis
It is a form of lung scarring which occurs with repeated chest infections in the community or even as a single severe infection requiring a hospital admission.
Along with the mortality rate, bronchiectasis leads to 136 hospital admissions every year, which puts it on a similar scale to rheumatic fever.
At least 4000 people—both infants and adults—across New Zealand isaffected by the disease.
Signs and symptoms include persistent coughs that are wet. Other signs include repeated respiratory infections, hospital admissions, antibiotics intake, and increased time off school.
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