Parents are warned to watch for ‘barking cough’ that can leave kids gasping for air

Parents are being urged to check their kids for signs of croup and to listen out for a nasty ‘barking’ cough after health officials in Wales warned of a rise in the cases of youngsters suffering from croup.

While numbers haven’t yet reached epidemic levels, it’s vital that parents know how to spot if their child is suffering.

The condition is rife in the colder months, so there tends to be a rise in autumn and winter, and due to the fact that croup is as contagious as the common cold it can spread fast, the NHS warns.

As with most contagious illnesses the best defence against this dreadful cough is good hygiene – such as regularly washing your hands and cleaning surfaces.

The NHS advises that croup typically affects babies from six months and young children up to three-years old.

They go on to add: ‘Croup can sometimes develop in babies as young as three months and older children up to 15 years of age.

‘Adults can also get croup but this is rare. The condition is more common during the late autumn and early winter months.’

The main sign is a barking and hacking cough, coupled with a harsh, painful-sounding noise – known as stridor – when breathing in, according to the NHS.

While the condition is rarely deadly, it usually clears up within a day or two, it can cause breathing problems and complications, including pneumonia.

Dr Richard Peabody, acting head of respiratory at Public Health England told The Sun Online that there has been a rise in the number of viruses that can trigger croup.

‘We are currently seeing viruses which can cause croup circulating in the community but at relatively low levels,’ he confirmed. ‘So it may be possible that we could see localised increases in England.’

Dr Peabody said in most cases croup is a ‘mild condition’ affecting the airways of babies and kids.