Asthma and Schools
Asthma is a leading chronic illness among children and adolescents in the United States. It is also one of the leading causes of school absenteeism. On average, in a classroom of 30 children, about 3 are likely to have asthma. Low-income populations, minorities, and children living in inner cities experience more emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths due to asthma than the general population.1
When children and adolescents are exposed to things in the environment—such as dust mites, and tobacco smoke—an asthma attack can occur. These are called asthma triggers.
Asthma-friendly schools are those that make the effort to create safe and supportive learning environments for students with asthma. They have policies and procedures that allow students to successfully manage their asthma. Research and case studies2 that looked at ways to best manage asthma in schools found that successful school-based asthma programs—
- Establish strong links with asthma care clinicians to ensure appropriate and ongoing medical care
- Target students who are the most affected by asthma at school to identify and intervene with those in greatest need
- Get administrative buy-in and build a team of enthusiastic people, including a full-time school nurse, to support the program
- Use a coordinated, multi-component and collaborative approach that includes school nursing services, asthma education for students and professional development for school staff
- Support evaluation of school-based programs and use adequate and appropriate outcome measures
Program Success Stories
- American Lung Association, Epidemiology and Statistics Unit, Research and Program Services. Trends in Asthma Morbidity and Mortality. January 2009.
- Akinbami LJ. The State of Childhood Asthma [pdf 365K], United States, 1980-2005. Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics: No. 381, Revised December 29, 2006. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, 2006.