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Asthma & Absenteeism: Health Officials Encourage Action Before School Begins


Kansas City, MO – School begins in just a few weeks, but for many students with asthma, the return to the classroom means more health complications.

Peggy Gaddy is Missouri's Asthma Program Coordinator. She says for a variety of reasons, kids experience more problems with their asthma once school starts.

GADDY: "You have the child in an enclosed space with other children. And let's say your child is allergic to cat dandruff, and you don't have any cats. But 6 of the kids in the classroom do. Well, they're going to bring cat dander in with them."

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates children with asthma miss an average of eight days of school annually. That's more than for any other chronic illness.

Gaddy says if children see a doctor before school starts, and develop an asthma plan that involves reviewing medication regimens and environmental triggers, kids are a lot less likely to have a severe asthma attack, and might not even have one at all.

The state estimates there are about 112,000 children in Missouri that have asthma, but rates are higher in urban parts of the state, like Kansas City.

Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.

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