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Did You Know?

By Florida Department of Health, Office of Communications

September 19, 2013

Did You Know: More than 460,000 instructional hours were lost due to asthma over the course of the 12–13 school year?

Asthma is a leading cause of absenteeism in schools and the number of students with asthma is increasing. In 2012, approximately 1 out of 5 Florida public middle and high school students had been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their life.

Between August and September the number of emergency room visits related to asthma attacks for school-aged youth (ages 5–15) almost doubles. This “September spike” happens every year and is often attributed to factors such as poor preventative care over the summer, a return to close quarters in school, pollens, and allergic triggers in schools. However, there are many factors at play that make identifying the root cause of the spike impossible.

The important takeaway for parents and their children is to maintain consistent asthma control efforts through the summer and beyond. Most asthma emergency department visits can be prevented by scheduling regular asthma check-up visits with the child’s doctor, taking medications as prescribed, and avoiding and controlling things in the environment that may trigger the child’s asthma, such as tobacco smoke, mold, dust or animal dander.

How can schools help?

Implementing robust school-based asthma management programs, starting in elementary school, can enable significant health and educational achievement gains for those students most in need. The Florida Asthma Coalition, in partnership with the American Lung Association in Florida and the Florida Department of Health, has developed an award to encourage and recognize schools that implement exemplary school-based asthma management programs. These are schools where administrators, staff, nurses, faculty, families and clinical partners are working together to help students with asthma properly manage their disease and live active, normal lives. The coalition has mentors across the state ready to help schools through the application process. Visit the Florida Asthma Coalition’s School webpage to sign-up for a mentor for your school and to learn more about the Florida Asthma-Friendly School Award.

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