A PROJECT has been launched aiming to improve the health of children with asthma and to cut back on the amount of time taken off school.

Schools and families across Brighton and Hove are being urged to sign up for the scheme, which uses an app to trace absences due to asthma related illness and provides tailored treatment advice.

The scheme, called Inspire, is being run by researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) in partnership with Brighton and Hove City Council.

On average there are three children with asthma in every classroom in the UK, which has among the highest prevalence rates of asthma symptoms in children worldwide.

Every year more than one in five children miss school due to asthma-like illness, and children with severe asthma may miss many weeks of vital education.

BSMS chairman of paediatrics, Somnath Mukhopadhyay, said: “The connection between the health of children and school attainment is well documented.

“Not only are these children missing out on the quality of life they deserve, but their asthma has a real knock-on effect, impacting on their education, and possibly even their future careers.

“Reducing school absenteeism through more effective management of illness is a health improvement area that receives the unanimous backing of schools, the NHS and parents and carers.”

Via the app, Studybugs, parents inform the school if their child is unwell and are prompted for details, for example regarding whether the illness was due to asthma or wheeze.

Each child develops an attack of asthma and allergy in a different way and looking more carefully at the events preceding the attack – via Studybugs – could help medics develop solutions which that are especially useful for each individual child.

Nathan Jones, 12, from East Grinstead, is currently only in school 70 per cent of the time, due to severe asthma and allergies.

His mother Amber Jones said: “Nathan sleeps very badly because of his asthma and often wakes up wheezy, so we need to get his allergies under control before he can take his medication and go to school.

“That means he’s often in late. Other days he’s just not well enough to go in, or the school sends him home because he’s reacted to something or his breathing is bad.

“Sometimes they send schoolwork home with Nathan, but it’s not the same without the teacher’s support, and when he’s feeling really rotten he’s just not up to studying. We are coming up to exams at the moment, which is another worry.”

Brighton and Hove acting director of public health, Peter Wilkinson, said: “This is part of our wider reaching health improvement work, in this case looking at the impact of childhood asthma on school attendance."

Participation in the project is free and schools can register in minutes by visiting www.everychildisdifferent.org/inspire.