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When your child is diagnosed with a lung condition

Babies, toddlers, children and adolescents: supporting your child as they grow

There will be different challenges at each stage of your child’s life. Here are some tips and things to think about as your child grows.

On this page:

How can I support my baby or toddler with a lung condition?

  • When your child is a baby or toddler, they will probably be spending more time at home than anywhere else. Take a look at our tips on making your home lung-friendly, make sure your home is smoke-free, and check out our information about improving the air quality in your home.
  • Keep your child at home if they have an infection. 
  • If your child goes to nursery, a childminder or any other childcare, make sure the staff know about your child’s condition and what to do if they become unwell. Give them a photocopy of your child’s written management plan. Make sure they know when they should call 999
  • Ask family and other visitors to stay away if they have a cold or infection.

What support can I expect when my child starts school?

  • Your child may need extra support when they start school. Your health care professionals and childcare providers can help you make a plan - this is sometimes called an individual health care plan (IHCP). Some nurses may offer to talk to your child’s school and answer any questions they have. 
  • Tell your child’s school about their condition. Make sure they are familiar with your child’s treatment needs and routines and know what to do if your child becomes unwell. 
  • If your child has a plan, such as a personal asthma action plan, share it with the school. The school should also have an asthma policy in place. We also have a school asthma card they can use.
  • Make sure school staff are aware of when they should call 999.
  • Tell the school about appointments your child needs to attend as a result of their condition.  They will usually need evidence such as a copy of the appointment letter. Absence for medical reasons should not affect your child’s overall attendance figures.
  • Your child might be happy to tell their friends about their condition, or they might not want anyone to know. Talk to your child and decide with them what they would like to do.
  • If you are becoming worried about your child’s progress and education, ask to speak to the school’s special educational needs co-ordinator.

What’s the best way to support older children and teenagers?

  • As your child gets older, encourage them to take more responsibility for their medication.
  • Your teenager may worry about side effects from their medicines, or if they use inhalers the effect they might have on the environment. They might feel their medication isn’t needed if they don’t have symptoms or dislike taking medication in front of others.  Discuss this with your teenager’s GP or paediatrician.
  • Encourage your child to take care of their physical and mental wellbeing:
    • Make sure they eat a well-balanced diet and keep active. With your child, talk to their GP about having a healthy diet and to find out the exercise level that’s right for them. 
    • It’s estimated children with long-term conditions are twice as likely to experience emotional problems.  If you’re worried about your child, talk to a health care professional about your concerns.
  • Adult health services will take over your child’s care when they turn 18. Planning for the move to adult services should start early to make sure your child is prepared – this is sometimes from the age of 11. They may spend time with health care professionals on their own and have joint reviews with children and adult services. Talk to your health care professionals about when this support should start.

Next: finding information, support and advice about your child's lung condition >

We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 03000 030 555 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

Last medically reviewed: May 2022. Due for review: May 2025

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.