According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), more than 36,000 kids miss school every day due to asthma. Asthma is not only the number one health problem for school aged children, but also the number one reason kids go to the emergency room.
Some kids, like 12-year-old Michael, have even had to leave public school due to asthma. Michael went to the hospital on ten separate occasions, causing him to fall behind in class. Now his mom Julie homeschools him, where she can more closely monitor his symptoms, triggers and medication.
But now in Missouri, a relatively new law enacted in 2012 is keeping kids out of the hospital when asthma attacks strike. The law, still the only one like it in the nation, allows school nurses to use nebulizers to administer asthma medication to children. Already it’s keeping children in class, and out of the emergency room.
As AAFA executive director Joy Krieger put it, “She [the school nurse] now has permission through her own medical knowledge and expertise to have the equipment and the medicine to save a child’s life at school.” This is especially important in polluted areas like St. Louis where an estimated 1 in 5 children have asthma.
Krieger’s next goal is more asthma education for parents, schools and even pharmacists. “Asthma need not be regarded as a health crisis” says Krieger, “but as a condition that can be treated and managed.”