KCUR News
3:11 pm
Tue November 16, 2010

Asthma Initiative Targets Child Care Centers

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Missouri Health Department has launched a new initiative to curb asthma attacks among kids. Last year, the health problem accounted for more than 3,000 childhood hospitalizations in the city.

Nationwide, about one in ten kids have asthma.

Becky Steiner is in charge of the new program. She says environmental factors, like indoor air quality, often trigger serious symptoms of the disease. She says the new effort takes specific aim at improving the environments of places where young kids spend a lot of their time: child care centers.

She says helping facilities identify and get rid of things like dust mites in carpets and animal dander can prevent serious asthma symptoms from surfacing.

"We can reduce emergency room visits, we can reduce the need for medication," says Steiner. "There can be improved quality of life, fewer missed days of school for children, fewer missed work days for parents."

Steiner says the program expects to consult with at least a quarter of all child care centers in the city.

"Part of our assessment is going through a checklist with them," she says. "When was the last time your HVAC system was serviced? Or when was the last time the furnace filters were changed? How often do you vacuum? Do you use a vacuum with a HEPA filter? Just those kinds of things to educate them [facilities] on steps they can take to make the environment clean and healthy for the children they're caring for."

Steiner says the program will also work directly with families on steps they can take to prevent asthma attacks.

The new program's being funded through about $40,000 in stimulus money. Overall, Missouri received about a million dollars to set up similar initiatives at seventy other local health departments across the state.

Consultations can be scheduled by calling 816-513-6362.

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