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CDC 24/7 - Protecting People - Florida's Success

Fostering Asthma-friendly Schools NEW

Group of diverse middle school students

What is the problem?

In 2012, about 20% of middle and high school students in Florida had been diagnosed with asthma. Asthma is a leading cause of missed school days. Uncontrolled asthma can affect students' grades and limit their involvement in school activities. Schools can play an important role in helping students control and manage their asthma. For example, they can limit students' exposure to outdoor air pollution that can trigger asthma attacks. Schools can use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's free alerts to plan activities when air quality is poor. However, the Florida Tracking Program found that few schools use the alerts.

What did Tracking do?

The Florida Tracking Program partnered with the state asthma program to increase the use of the AirNow alerts across the state, especially in schools. Together, they created a process to recognize schools and childcare centers that support asthma-friendly environments. Schools must register to receive AirNow alerts, and meet other criteria, to be considered for this voluntary recognition.

Improved public health

By April 2013, 7 childcare centers and about twelve K-12 schools had received the Asthma-Friendly School Recognition. As more schools are recognized, thousands of children will be attending schools that are better prepared to deal with poor air quality conditions. This will lead to healthier environments for kids with asthma in Florida.


Birth defects monitoring system

Newborn baby's feet with hospital bracelet

What is the problem?

Birth defects are a major cause of death and disease in Florida's children. Birth defects can also contribute substantially to long-term disability. In 2007, more than 9,000 Florida infants were born with major structural or genetic birth defects. The causes of most birth defects are unknown. The possible association between birth defects and environmental contamination is a real concern in Florida.

What did Tracking do?

The Florida Tracking Program, Florida Birth Defects Registry, and the University of South Florida developed a surveillance system to improve identifying cases and confirming diagnoses for the 12 birth defects in the Florida Tracking Network:

  • Anencephaly
  • Spina Bifida without anencephaly
  • Hypolastic left heart syndrome
  • Teratology of Fallot
  • Transposition of the great vessels
  • Cleft lip with cleft palate
  • Cleft lip without cleft palate
  • Cleft palate without cleft lip
  • Hypospadius
  • Gastroschisis
  • Reduction deformities of the upper/lower limbs
  • Down Syndrome

Improved public health

The Florida Tracking Program Active Surveillance Project has developed an improved system for monitoring birth defects. This system has helped identify higher rates of serious birth defects of the brain and spine in Puerto Rican women in Florida. These data will assist in developing prevention activities to educate these women about the health benefits of folic acid, a B vitamin that can help prevent such defects. The Florida Birth Defects Registry also uses birth defect data collected through enhanced surveillance to develop county risk profiles for selected conditions.