The Rochester Early Childhood Asthma Program
The Rochester Early Childhood Asthma Program partners with Rochester city schools and primary care providers in the Rochester community to improve care for urban children who suffer the greatest consequences from childhood asthma. With promising results from initial studies, additional projects have been designed to develop sustainable models for identifying and treating children with this all too common disease.
“The children involved in the program were healthier—missed a lot less school due to asthma…We were able to show students proper techniques…The program reinforced to parents the importance of a consistent maintenance schedule—children in the study did not have severe episodes in school.” (Comments from school nurses involved in the study.)
Asthma is the most common chronic childhood disease, affecting almost 8 million children in the U.S. and approximately nine percent of children living in the city of Rochester. Asthma causes many missed school days, parents’ missed workdays, and substantial stress on daily family life. Hospitalization rates for childhood asthma are high, and appear to be increasing.
Children living in the inner city are affected disproportionately by asthma. In Monroe County, young urban children have hospitalization rates for asthma that are five times higher than rates for suburban children.
National guidelines recommend daily preventive medications for all children with moderate to severe asthma. Unfortunately, many children who should receive these medications are not receiving them. The reasons for this are not entirely clear.
The solutions to the asthma epidemic in Rochester and in the U.S. will not likely lie in new medicines and technologies. Beneficial therapies and interventions for childhood asthma are already available. We feel that at least part of the solution lies in overcoming multiple obstacles to the receipt of effective care.
A research team at Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong, led by Jill Halterman, M.D., MPH designed, implemented, and evaluated a School-Based Asthma Intervention Study that provided, in the school setting, administration of preventive medications for three- to seven-year-old children with asthma. This randomized trial included 180 children from 54 different schools in the Rochester City School District. There are several promising outcomes from this program. Specifically, children receiving preventive medications in school experienced more symptom-free days during peak asthma season, fewer days missed from school, and improved parental quality of life.
We now have developed several additional projects to help young children with asthma. The newest program recently received funding from the National Institutes of Health to continue our work with the schools. We are privileged to be able to continue to partner with families and the community to improve the quality of life for these children.
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