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News: Asthma caution this Christmas, Red Cross appeal, new learning app

A vacuum cleaner cleans up around Christmas decorationsSo what is happening in the parenting world this week?

Why is the National Asthma Council asking Aussies with asthma to be cautious this festive season?

How can your donation help the Australian Red Cross during their Christmas Appeal? And what world-first from Monash University can help entertain (and educate) your children over the school holidays?

12 tips to manage asthma this Christmas

Australians with asthma are being urged to approach the festive season with caution, as Christmas trees, scented candles and even the stress of the season can trigger  symptoms.

National Asthma Council Australia CEO Kristine Whorlow says most people don’t know that cypress and pine trees produce high amounts of pollen, which can trigger asthma and hay fever symptoms.

“And, like many indoor plants, real Christmas trees can harbour mould,” she says.

“Artificial trees also carry risk and are not necessarily a safe alternative, as while being stored away they can collect a significant amount of dust and mould, both of which are common asthma triggers.”

To minimise the Christmas wheeze, the National Asthma Council Australia has released these Top 12 Asthma Tips for the 12 Days of Christmas.

  1. Don’t let Christmas greens make you blue – stay clear of real Christmas trees if you are allergic to Cyprus or pine pollen.
  2. Beware of dust and mould from stored decorations and artificial trees – unpack and clean them outside before displaying them inside
  3. Plan ahead for outdoor parties – remember pollen season isn’t over yet, and cigarette smoke, changeable weather and bushfire haze are all asthma triggers
  4. Get your lungs in tune for carol season – see your doctor for an asthma check-up and make sure your asthma management is as good as it can be
  5. Remember to take your preventer every day if prescribed – don’t let good habits drop out of your routine in the Christmas chaos
  6. Take care of your mental health – talk to our doctor, if you need to, about how to best manage the season’s stress, anxiety and high emotions, which can all trigger asthma symptoms
  7. Avoid scented candles and oils – keep these popular gifts away from sensitive noses, as they can make it harder for people with asthma or allergies to breathe
  8. Give a practical present to someone with asthma or allergies – offer to do their vacuuming or mow their lawn (if you aren’t sensitive yourself)
  9. Consider gifts that may be better choices for people with asthma or allergies – look for the Sensitive Choice blue butterfly on a range of approved products and services
  10. Prepare your home for sensitive guests – put your pet outside or in another room, don’t use room fragrances, and dust and vacuum before they arrive.
  11. Check if any guests have food allergies or intolerances – keep the nuts in the pantry until you’re sure
  12. Enjoy your Christmas pudding – unless you have a confirmed dairy allergy, don’t be scared of cream or brandy custard; dairy products rarely trigger asthma symptoms

Donate to Red Cross this Christmas

It’s always Christmas for 89-year-old John and his retired step-daughter Ilona who lives interstate.

Ilona was constantly worried about her dad living alone after her mother moved to a nursing home and then passed away some years ago.

John now gets a free daily phone call from Red Cross to check that he is safe and well – Ilona is so grateful she volunteers as a Red Cross caller herself.

John’s daily Red Cross phone call gives Ilona great peace of mind. She rings her dad as often as she can but she says it’s a comfort to know someone has always checked on him.

Red Cross phones 8000 people each day to check they’re OK and each year meets nearly 10,000 requests for someone to knock on the door of anyone who has failed to answer their daily call.

A donation to the Red Cross Christmas Appeal will help ensure elderly and isolated people like John get a phone call on Christmas Day and every day of the year.

To donate to the Red Cross Festive Appeal go to or phone 1800 811 700.

University develops world-first educational app for kids

Give your kids something educational to do these holidays with world-first app from Monash University.

The MWorld App is the world’s first university-produced educational App for children and already, at least 15 schools nationally will incorporate it into their school curriculum in 2015.

Aimed at 8 to 12-year-olds, MWorld revolves around several core subjects such as science and history. It has been designed and developed in consultation with teachers, parents, children and experts from Monash University.

The goal of MWorld is to help drive improvements in learning and literacy for 1 million Australian children and 500 million children worldwide over the next decade.

MWorld is also free for teachers. Visit

Image credit: ambrozinio/123RF Stock Photo

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