‘EXTREMELY worrying’ figures have revealed East Lancashire has some of the highest hospital admission rates for asthma attacks among children.

Data from by Asthma UK showed Blackburn with Darwen had the second highest admission rate in England in 2012/13, with 566 cases for every 100,000 of the population.

This was a sharp increase on the previous year, when the rate was 453.

The NHS authority which covers Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale, had the sixth worst rate, with 466 admissions per 100,000, up from 367 the previous year.

Central Manchester topped the list, with a rate of 639, and the top 10 was dominated by areas in the North West. The national average, from 212 health authorities, was just 219.

Health chiefs pointed to the high levels of deprivation across East Lancashire, with cold and damp houses thought to be contributing to the problem.

But Asthma UK said many child sufferers do not receive care that fully meets national standards, which means about one in 10 of those admitted to hospital for their asthma need to return within a month.

Kay Boycott, chief executive of Asthma UK, said: “It is extremely worrying that the number of children being admitted to hospital because of asthma is so high in the North West, especially given that reducing child hospitalisation rates is one of the priorities set by the Secretary of State.

“These figures make it clear that existing pledges to improve asthma care need to be given even more urgency.”

Dominic Harrison, director of public health at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said he was ‘well aware’ of the problem and has been working hard with the NHS to make improvements. But he said the way local respiratory services were organised means more children in the borough are likely to be seen at a hospital site than in other areas, which may have skewed the figures.

Asthma is a common long-term condition caused by inflammation of the small tubes, called bronchi, which carry air in and out of the lungs. Various triggers can irritate the lungs, such as dust, animal fur, pollen, tobacco smoke and cold air, prompting the airways to narrow and the muscles around them to tighten, causing a cough, wheezing, or breathlessness.

The cause of asthma is not fully understood, although it is known to run in families.