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Posts Tagged ‘asthma’

xposted at Moms Clean AirForce

When I hear someone say, yeah, the kid wheezes a little but he’s ok; sometimes she can’t catch her breath, but she’ll be fine; when someone tries to minimize the harm that asthma can cause – it irks me.  It REALLY irks me.

When I hear a power plant try to minimize the harm that their emissions do; when they dismiss various scientists, including those that conducted a study that scientifically estimates “the contribution of environmental pollutants to the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and costs of pediatric disease in American children. [They] examined four categories of illness: lead poisoning, asthma, cancer, and neurobehavioral disorders. “ [1]  What they found was alarming, “ Total annual costs are estimated to be $54.9 billion (range $48.8-64.8 billion): $43.4 billion for lead poisoning, $2.0 billion for asthma, $0.3 billion for childhood cancer, and $9.2 billion for neurobehavioral disorders.”

That’s all numbers, all money…  the true cost  – Children.  The children who are unable to run and play, who take medications to be able to breathe, to be able to function normally in a regular school day.  The true cost was discussed on the recent Mom’s Clean Air Force call about asthma in Latino kids,  when we heard the heartbreaking story of a young girl who died as a result of an asthma attack.  One of the topics we talked about was how schools deal with kids who need to carry their inhalers, and I was heartened to hear that in every State it is now law that children over a certain age must carry and self administer their inhalers.  Here is a link to the CDC’s page on Asthma in Schools, that has links to each State’s rules (some require letters from doctors and/or parents

For my Military Readers – do you know what the rules are in DoDD schools?

The American Lung Association has a program – the “Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative” that you can use with your community and school, to work together to make schools more welcoming to children that suffer from asthma.

For those of us who don’t have kids with asthma, why should we worry?  There are so many other things for us to worry about with our kids (or in my case, my grandchild).. school bullying, or grades, or how awful the school lunch is, or how well she’s getting along in school…. Why? Well, if we are going to be crass about this, if the almighty dollar is what it takes for some to get involved or make a change – ok, here’s a few money reasons.

Because every kid with asthma, is an adult with asthma who will need medical care.  Because the majority of kids with asthma, are children in poverty, who need medical care that is subsidized in some way.  Because those kids with asthma have parents who need to leave their jobs to take them to the doctor, to care for them when they have an attack; to stay home with them.

I’d prefer to believe that most of us want to cut down on the incidence of asthma in kids, because we don’t want to see a child struggling to breathe, we don’t want to see a child relegated to the sidelines because they had an attack.  That’s what my friend Bette calls the Pollyanna in me..

Knowing that the more polluted our air is, the harder it is for kids to breathe; and knowing that some companies put their profits ahead of these kids – is absolutely infuriating!  So what do we do about it?  We make sure the EPA isn’t gutted of its ability to  safeguard the air we breathe.

Mom’s Clean Air Force is trying to make sure that all of us are heard in this ongoing debate.  One voice is great, but putting that voice together with lots of other voices – make a huge difference.  Because our elected representatives pay attention to LOUD noises! So lets join together – lets make our voices heard!


[1] Landrigan PJ, Schechter CB, Lipton JM, Fahs MC, Schwartz J 2002. Environmental Pollutants and Disease in American Children: Estimates of Morbidity, Mortality, and Costs for Lead Poisoning, Asthma, Cancer, and Developmental Disabilities. Environ Health Perspect 110:721-728. doi:10.1289/ehp.02110721

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The health of our children isn’t just a matter of protection of our young, isn’t just that gut instinct of the parent to protect its cub; the health of the nation’s children isn’t just what a responsible group of statesmen and public officials are morally obligated to do; we need to do it for another reason. It’s a crass thing – it’s something we don’t want to discuss.

Money.

The health of our children doesn’t just cost them physically, it doesn’t just cost us as parents or grandparents, emotionally when they are sick, when they have trouble breathing with asthma. It costs all of us monetarily. Those of us with health insurance are grateful for the coverage, except when we have to change insurance and that asthma is a pre-existing condition, and ends up costing hundreds in additional premiums; or the condition isn’t covered and all those doctor visits and medications aren’t paid for! The children of those who don’t have coverage at all – can you imagine the cost of those visits and meds to Medicaid?

When our son was in elementary school, we didn’t live close to any family members who could watch him when he got sick. So every cold, every flu, every “tummy bug” ended up with one of us having to take time off work. Multiply that by the amount of children in our country and we are talking some serious cash! For a child with asthma, for a child who is affected by mercury exposure, childhood cancer, lead poisoning, the medical visits and costs are frequent and expensive. The loss of productivity is amazing.

As a matter of fact, there is a new report out – the results are pretty staggering. The title says the costs are $76.6 BILLION in 2008 for children with environmental diseases. This includes costs for those children who were exposed in utero to mercury, which can mean special education for a child with intellectual disability from mercury poisoning. Since the single largest depositors of mercury are the coal fired power plants in this country, stricter regulations are necessary.

The report “ limited [their ]analysis, as Landrigan and colleagues did, to those diseases in childhood associated with “chemical substances of human origin in environmental media—air, food, water, soil, the home, and the community..” The indirect costs for asthma alone, as discussed in this report is $2.2 BILLION. This is serious money!

Since in our society Money Talks – maybe this will make those who deny that pollution costs all of us in so many ways, wake up!

I’d rather have someone vote to strengthen the Clean Air Act because it’s the right thing to do. But if it takes the report of the cost to make them vote – fine. Here’s the link to the report.

Read it, send it to your congressperson.  Make them realize that this is crucial, to our health, to our country.  As always, for more information, take a look at Mom’s Clean Air Force.

KSF

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Today is World Asthma Day – did you know that? It’s a day to make everyone aware of what asthma is. If you think it is just a little wheezing; if you think that asthma is just an inability to catch your breath when you are climbing a hill, or running to catch the bus – think again.

Asthma can affect people of all ages, although it usually starts when young.  It does run in families.   All sorts of things can aggravate the condition, pollen or allergies (which is why doctors are so busy right now in the spring!) and “bad air” – air that contains particulates or pollution that irritates airways in the lungs, which causes narrowing of the airways and make breathing harder and harder.

Asthma rates are increasing yearly. According to a report on MedicineNet.com

A study reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (1999; 159:125-29) evaluated a group of patients at two points in time, 30 years apart. The study performed by doctors in Scotland detected a significant increase in symptoms of allergic asthma and levels of antibodies to environmental allergic factors, such as dust mites, pets, and air pollutants over the three decades. Importantly, the researchers noted that there was an increase in the signs and symptoms of allergy, even in people without a family history of allergy!

Did you know that people die from the effects of asthma? According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (and I copied this, because I find it pretty stunning and didn’t want to make a mistake)

  • Approximately 34.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma by a health professional during their  lifetime.1
  • An estimated 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, with 250,000 annual deaths attributed to the disease.2
  • Workplace conditions, such as exposure to fumes, gases or dust, are responsible for 11% of asthma cases worldwide.2
  • About 70% of asthmatics also have allergies.2
  • The prevalence of asthma increased 75% from 1980-1994.3
  • Asthma rates in children under the age of five have increased more than 160% from 1980-1994.3
  • It is estimated that the number of people with asthma will grow by more than 100 million by 2025.2
  • Asthma accounts for approximately 500,000 hospitalizations each year.5
  • 13 million school days are missed each year due to asthma.5
  • Asthma accounts for about 10.1 million missed work days for adults annually.5
  • Asthma was responsible for 3,384 deaths in the United States in 2005.6
  • The annual economic cost of asthma is $19.7 billion. Direct costs make up $14.7 billion of that total, and indirect costs such as lost productivity add another $5 billion.1
  • Prescription drugs represented the largest single direct medical expenditure related to asthma, over $6 billion.1
  • In 2006, asthma prevalence was 20.1% higher in African Americans than in whites.1
  • The prevalence of asthma in adult females was 23% greater than the rate in males, in 2006.1
  • Approximately 40% of children who have asthmatic parents will develop asthma.4
  • In 2005, 8.9% of children in the United States currently had asthma.8
  • Nine million U.S. children under 18 have been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their lifetime.8
  • Nearly 4 million children have had an asthma attack in the previous year.8
  • More than 12 million people in the United States report having an asthma attack in the past year.7
  • Asthma accounts for 217,000 emergency room visits and 10.5 million physician office visits every year.9
  • In 2006, almost 2.5 million people over the age of 65 had asthma, and more than 1 million had an asthma attack or episode.1
  • In a survey of U.S. homes, approximately one-quarter had levels of dust mite allergens present in a bed at a level high enough to trigger asthma symptoms.10
  • In 2007, 29% of children who had a food allergy also had asthma.11
  • Asthma increases the odds of healthcare use in obese people by 33%.12
  • About 23 million people, including almost 7 million children, have asthma.13
  • Approximately 2 million Hispanics in the U.S. have asthma. 14
  • Asthma is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization among children under 15.15
  • An average of one out of every 10 school-aged child has asthma.16
  • Annual expenditures for health and lost productivity due to asthma are estimated at over $20 billion, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

This isn’t just a medical issue – it’s a budget issue. Another fact – one of the medical reasons to be turned down for military service – asthma!

From all the studies that have been done, one inescapable fact is – with a rise in air pollution, there has been a correlational rise in asthma rates.  The Clean Air Act has done a good job of cleaning up the air in major cities and can do more, if we make sure that it continues to be in effect!  Our air is worth it.  Our kids lungs are worth it.

See, this is why I’m a member of Mom’s Clean Air Force!

KSF

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