Published Monday, 24 March 2014
The service was launched on Monday. (© UTV)
Respiratory disease is the most commonly reported long-term illness in children.
The state-of-the-art service is available in the new regional respiratory testing service at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.
The equipment includes a top-of-the-range Jaeger MasterScreen system for measuring precisely how well children's lungs work.
Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke contributed £80k towards the specialist equipment - £10k of this was raised by the members of Templemore Amateur Swimming Club in east Belfast.
Funding for the staffing and running of the facility was secured by The Public Health Agency through the Respiratory Framework for Northern Ireland.
The centre was officially opened on Monday by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride. It will be run by Paediatric Pulmonary Physiologist Patricia Watters.
Ms Watters said: "This new laboratory will benefit children with asthma, Cystic Fibrosis, other lung diseases and children undergoing treatments that have the potential to damage the lung such as some children with cancer or inflammatory bowel disease.
"It will also help us to provide the safest care for the growing number of children who rely on technology such as portable ventilators or home oxygen to help their breathing at home."
Professor Mike Shields, who established the centre, added: "The value of all this new equipment is that it allows us to monitor children's health in great detail in their own homes as well as in hospital. We can measure how effective the child's breathing is at rest, in sleep and even with exercise."
NI Chest Heart & Stroke's Chief Executive, Andrew Dougal, said: "Children and families from every part of Northern Ireland will benefit from this state of the art service that will include mini breathing monitors for use at home and specialist testing equipment based in the hospital. Most importantly, it will greatly improve the quality of life of children with lung disorders."
© UTV News