Too Many Children and Youth Have Uncontrolled Asthma

Asthma treatmentAsthma is a common chronic condition among children and youth, particularly in low-income communities. Currently, one out of ten children, or 6.8 million nationwide, have asthma.1 Prevalence rates are nearly twice as high for African American (17 percent) and Puerto Rican (20 percent) children compared to their white peers (10 percent), and living in low-income households contributes to increased rates.2

Although asthma can be effectively managed, many children and youth lack access to regular medical services and end up making unnecessary visits to the emergency room (ER). African American and Latino children visit the ER for asthma care more often than white children.3 These ER visits are difficult for families and costly for the health care system. In addition, asthma is a common cause of school absence: children with asthma miss 13 million days of school annually.4 These absences not only impact individual students’ academic achievement, but also overall school funding.

School-Based Health Centers Help Manage Asthma

School-based health centers (SBHCs) help children, youth, and families manage asthma, keeping kids out of the hospital and in school and saving money for our health care system. During the 2013-14 school year, SBHCs provided individual services (83 percent of SBHCs in national census), small group activities with students (27 percent), and education to parents or community members (25 percent) for chronic disease management, including asthma.5

Recent research shows that SBHCs have documented significant improvements in health outcomes for children with asthma:

  • SBHC users miss less school as a result of their asthma.6
  • SBHC users are less likely to have asthma-related restricted activity days.7
  • SBHC users are less likely to go to the ER or be hospitalized for asthma.8, 9, 10
  • When children with asthma have access to an SBHC, less money is spent on ER visits and hospitalizations. Researchers estimated the potential cost savings of decreased hospitalizations as approximately $970 per asthmatic child per school year.11

Learn More

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Lung Diseases and Conditions Resources

This website has resources on best practices for asthma management, including a guide for schools.

American Lung Association’s Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative

This toolkit was developed by the American Lung Association’s Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative. It is a planning tool that helps community organizations collaborate with schools to create comprehensive asthma management systems. The toolkit can be used to ensure that children with asthma are healthy, in school, and ready to learn.

Medication Management At School

The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools provides general guidance, safety checklists, and other useful resources to help schools effectively manage the administration of medication to students.

Asthma and the Achievement Gap Among Urban Minority Youth

This article, by Charles E. Basch, includes a chapter on asthma. It describes how disproportionate rates of asthma among urban minority youth contribute to the achievement gap and outlines ways schools can help.

Secondhand Tobacco Smoke and the Health of Your Family

This brochure, in English and Spanish, from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency explains the dangers of secondhand smoke to children, especially those with asthma.

[expand id=”one” title=”References“]
(1) Bloom B, Jones LI, Freeman G. Summary health statistics for U.S. children: National Health Interview Survey, 2012. Vital and Health Statistics. Series 10, Data from the National Health Survey. Dec 2013(258):1-81.
(2) Keet CA, McCormack MC, Pollack CE, Peng RD, McGowan E, Matsui EC. Neighborhood poverty, urban residence, race/ethnicity, and asthma: Rethinking the inner-city asthma epidemic. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Mar 2015;135(3):655-662.
(3) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma’s Impact on the Nation: Data from the CDC National Asthma Control Program.: National Center for Environmental Health;2012.
(4) Akinbami L. The state of childhood asthma, United States, 1980-2005. Adv Data. Dec 12 2006(381):1-24.
(5) Schelar, E., Lofink Love, H., Taylor, K., Schlitt, J., & Even, M. (2016). Trends and Opportunities for Investment in Student Health and Success: Findings from the 2013-2014 Census of School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs). Washington, D.C.: School-Based Health Alliance.
(6) Webber MP, Carpiniello KE, Oruwariye T, Lo Y, Burton WB, Appel DK. Burden of asthma in inner-city elementary schoolchildren: do school-based health centers make a difference? Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Feb 2003;157(2):125-129.
(7) Mansour ME, Rose B, Toole K, Luzader CP, Atherton HD. Pursuing perfection: an asthma quality improvement initiative in school-based health centers with community partners. Public Health Reports. Nov-Dec 2008;123(6):717-730.
(8) Ibid.
(9) Guo JJ, Jang R, Keller KN, McCracken AL, Pan W, Cluxton RJ. Impact of School-Based Health Centers on Children with Asthma. Journal of Adolescent Health. Oct 2005;37(4):266-274.
(10) Lurie N, Bauer EJ, Brady C. Asthma Outcomes at an Inner-City School-Based Health Center. Journal of School Health. Jan 2001;71(1):9-16.
(11) Guo et al.