New York Times Examines Efforts To Address Childhood Asthma in U.S. Schools
The New York Times yesterday examined efforts to address the increased number of students with asthma in U.S. schools. About 867,000 children are taken to the emergency room for "severe" asthma attacks each year, and many of the attacks occur in schools, according to asthma experts. In addition, asthma accounts for 14 million days absent from school each year. Dr. Howard Taras, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on School Health, said that parents in many cases "keep their children who are suffering from asthma at home largely because they fear the schools will not manage their children's disorders," the Times reports. Asthma experts said that the nation's 89,000 public schools "vary widely in how they handle children with asthma." A recent CDC report on the issue provides "comprehensive strategies" that schools should use to address asthma (Tarkan, New York Times, 11/19).
The report, "Strategies for Addressing Asthma Within a Coordinated School Health Program," outlines six strategies to promote "asthma-friendly" schools: establishment of appropriate management and support systems; provision of appropriate health and mental health services for students with asthma; reduction of asthma "triggers" in schools; education of students and staff about asthma; provision of "safe" physical education programs for students with asthma; and cooperation between schools, families and the community to manage asthma symptoms and reduce student absences (CDC release, 10/28). The CDC also recommends that schools have a full-time nurse and "easy access" to inhalers for students with asthma. Dr. Lloyd Kolbe, director of the division of adolescent and school health at the CDC, said, "Many schools are doing a terrific job, some schools are not doing nearly enough and the vast majority of schools fall somewhere in between" (New York Times, 11/19). The full CDC report is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.