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asthma inhaler 2The prevalence of asthma among children and young adults has decreased over the past decade, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Asthma in Australia 2011, launched by Professor Guy Marks, Director of the Australian Centre for Asthma Monitoring (ACAM), found that between 2001 and 2007-08, the prevalence of asthma declined in people aged five to 34 years by over one quarter, but remained stable in adults aged 35 years and over.

The report also shows a decrease in deaths from asthma, with the mortality rate due to asthma dropping by 45 per cent between 1997 and 2009.

"Despite these improvements, asthma prevalence and mortality rates in Australia remain high on an international scale," Professor Marks said.

In 2007–08, the prevalence of asthma in Australia was estimated to be about one in 10 – equivalent to about 2 million people.

The report comes hot on the heels of a study that has found that being obese during pregnancy dramatically increases the risk of a child having asthma before their 10th birthday.

Dr Adrian Lowe from Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and the University of Melbourne reports there is a clear increase in the risk of childhood asthma with increasing levels of obesity in the mother, with the children of very obese mothers having a 57 per cent increase in the odds of using asthma medications between eight and 10 years of age.

The research, which was initiated by Dr Lowe, studied more than 189,000 children born to 129,239 mothers.

For further information visit the AIHW or Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.

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