More than a million mums in the UK have asthma - new figures

Asthma UK reveals the challenges parents face including being ‘robbed of precious moments’ with their kids

More than a million mums in the UK have asthma, and many may have been robbed of precious moments with their children, according to new estimates by Asthma UK.

The charity is raising awareness of the challenges parents with asthma face, from having to find childcare if they go into hospital, distress about their child seeing them have an asthma attack or being unable to take their children on days out because they worry it could trigger a fatal asthma attack.

Asthma UK has calculated that according to an online survey of more than 1,500 people living with asthma in the UK, conducted by YouGov:

  • Over half (57%) of women with asthma are mums - the equivalent of 1.4 million people*
  • A further 850,000 people with asthma are dads**
  • Over a fifth (22%) of mums with asthma who have children 17 years old or younger reported that their child has seen them have an asthma attack, which Asthma UK says could be ‘deeply distressing’ for parents and children
  • An estimated 1 in 6 mums*** with asthma in the UK have missed out on activities with their children because of their asthma.

Asthma UK says it has heard from parents with asthma who have missed out on activities with their child such as playing sport with them, or going to the park or farm with their child. This is because exercise or allergies to pollen and animal hair or feathers can trigger their asthma.

It also says parents have cited issues such as having to rely on friends and family to look after their children due to unplanned hospital trips and overnight admissions.

The charity is raising awareness of the seriousness of asthma and how it can have a knock-on effect on friends and family. It is urging parents with asthma - or anyone with the condition - to get in touch if they need support. It is also calling on everyone with asthma to ensure they take their preventative medication, know their triggers and use a written asthma action plan.

Asthma affects 5.4 million people in the UK, leaves people gasping for breath and can affect people’s health, work, home life and relationships.

Fiona Doyle, 34, is a nursery owner and mum to a five-year-old. She has been hospitalised three times and signed-off work because of her asthma. She said:

“Having asthma as a single mum is incredible stressful. When I’ve been rushed to hospital with an asthma attack, not only have I been fighting for my life but I’ve been fraught with worry about who will look after my daughter and how she’ll cope if I don’t survive.

“It scares my daughter when I have an asthma attack or she sees me covered in hospital with tubes up my nose and needles in my arms, and asthma has robbed me of precious time with her. As pollen and animal hair trigger my asthma I have to think really carefully about simple activities like taking her to the farm or playing with her in the park as it could trigger a deadly asthma attack.”

“With advice from Asthma UK, I now know how to manage my asthma so I have fewer asthma attacks.  I want to urge other parents to get support from the charity so they can focus on being a mum and prevent asthma taking over their life.”

Dr Andy Whittamore, Clinical Lead at Asthma UK and a practicing GP, says: “Being a parent is tough and it’s even harder if you have asthma, which can leave you gasping for breath and rob you of precious moments with your children.

“Parents know that with every asthma attack it could be life-threatening. They may worry about the trauma of their child seeing them have an attack or being separated from their child when in hospital. With stress making asthma worse for some people, it can be a vicious circle.

“It’s important to remember that asthma has a knock-on effect on friends and family too, putting people under all sorts of emotional and practical strain. But we want to reassure parents with asthma - in fact anyone with the condition - that support is available through our nurse helpline and health advice on our website.

“If people take their asthma medicines it will help them stay well so they can enjoy being a parent and avoid missing out. Taking your preventer medicines as prescribed, using a written asthma action plan and having a yearly asthma review can also help make sure you enjoy precious moments with your children.”

To find out more tips on how parents can manage their asthma visit

You can also speak to our asthma nurses by calling 0300 222 5800 or by messaging 07378 606 728 on WhatsApp



For further information, please contact:

Emma Warren, Senior Media Officer, Asthma UK: 07951 721 393 or


Notes to Editors:

Allfigures, unless otherwise stated, based on a YouGov survey of 1,658 people living with asthma in the UK. Fieldwork was undertaken between 3rd - 11th April 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

*To estimate that 1.4 million mums with asthma in the UK, we applied the proportion of women who are mothers who had completed the survey (57%) to the population of women in the UK with asthma (2.5 million).

**To estimate that there are 850,000 dads with asthma in the UK, we also applied the proportion of men who are dads who completed the survey (48%) and applied that to our estimate of the number of adult men with asthma in the UK (1.8 million).

*** To estimate that 1 in 6 mums have missed out on activities with their child(ren) we applied the proportion of mums who said they had missed out on activities with their child(ren) because of their asthma (15%) to the estimated number of mums with asthma in the UK (1.4 million).