Op-Ed: Parents, Take Control Of Your Child’s Asthma From Harlem To Hollis

askew-photo2By Dr. George L. Askew

If your child has asthma, you know all too well what asthma symptoms look like: coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.What you may not know is that even when your child doesn’t display any symptoms, she still has asthma, which may need daily management.

The New York City Health Department launched a media campaign to educate parents about the importance of daily management of their child’s asthma. It’s crucial for parents to understand that most asthma attacks can be avoided with daily management, sometimes requiring medication prescribed by a doctor.

Asthma is a daily concern for many families across our city. Citywide, the illness impacts an estimated 84,000 children ages 0 to 12.  Each year there are more than 42,000 emergency department visits and 7,000 hospitalizations related to asthma attacks in New York City children ages 0 to 14.

Asthma is a daily concern for many families across our city. Citywide, the illness impacts an estimated 84,000 children ages 0 to 12.  Each year there are more than 42,000 emergency department visits and 7,000 hospitalizations related to asthma attacks in New York City children ages 0 to 14.

Children in neighborhoods such as East Harlem have suffered much higher rates of asthma than other neighborhoods. A 2014 study that compared children living in East Harlem to children living on the Upper East Side found that the East Harlem children ages 0 to 4 were 11.6 times more likely to have an asthma-related hospitalization.

If you child needs daily medication, the most important step you can take is to work with your doctor on a daily management plan to control your child’s asthma.  When working with your doctor on this plan make sure you understand how to use prescribed medicines and how often they should be given to your child.

Once this plan is in place, share it with everyone who takes care of your child. It is especially important to have an Asthma Medication Administration Form (MAF) on file with your child’s school nurse and update it at the beginning of each school year.

The Health Department’s Harlem Neighborhood Health Action Center manages the East Harlem Asthma Center of Excellence (EHACE), a community-based program that has done impressive work to help children with asthma. Between 2008, when EHACE began working in upper Manhattan, and 2014, asthma hospitalization rates in East and Central Harlem decreased 16% among children ages 0 to 4 and 11% among 5 to 14 year olds.

At EHACE, your child’s asthma-related needs will be assessed, and counselors will provide advice on how to recognize symptoms and triggers, how to follow the plan you and your doctor have created, and how to give medications and ensure your child’s asthma is controlled.

Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. If you’d like more information on asthma, the Medical Administration form, or the East HarlemAsthma Center of Excellence, call 311 or visit nyc.gov/health/asthma.

By Dr. George L. Askew, Deputy Commissioner, Division of Family and Child Health, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

About Harlem World Magazine

Harlem World Magazine is a lifestyle and brand for anyone who has a Harlem state of mind, dedicated to news, history, the renaissance and stories that celebrate our lifestyle.

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