Health Department Launches Asthma Campaign “Your Child’s Asthma Is Always There, Even When They Seem Perfectly Fine"

Campaign reminds parents that asthma should be controlled with daily management even in the absence of symptoms

November 3, 2016 – The Health Department today launched a campaign educating parents about asthma as a chronic illness and the need to manage their child’s asthma every day. The campaign reminds parents that while there is no cure for asthma, it can be controlled with daily management. The campaign, depicting children using their asthma medications and featuring the tagline, “Your child’s asthma is always there, even when they seem perfectly fine,” will appear in bus shelters in Northern Manhattan, the Bronx and Central Brooklyn – areas of the city with the highest rates of asthma-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations. A social media campaign will target all boroughs. The campaign asks parents to work with their health care provider to create a daily management plan for their child that includes taking medication, avoiding triggers that make asthma symptoms worse, and ensuring schools and caregivers know how to manage a child’s asthma. For many children, managing asthma means taking daily medication. Parents can go to nyc.gov/health to learn more about creating a management plan for their child.
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“We want to help parents understand that their child’s asthma can be controlled with just a few steps each day,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett.  “Daily management, including taking medicine and avoiding environmental triggers, can prevent many asthma attacks and emergency visits to the hospital. Asthma, while there is still no cure, can be managed and your child can live an active, healthy life.”

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that makes it hard to breathe, and affects an estimated 84,000 children (ages 0-12) in New York City, representing 6.1% of the population of that age group. Each year, there are more than 42,000 emergency department visits and 7,000 hospitalizations related to asthma attacks in children. For most children, these could be avoided by daily medication, as directed by a doctor. Rates of asthma among children are especially high in the Bronx and Manhattan, where 8.1% and 7.4%, respectively, of children suffer from the illness. In addition, rates of asthma are highest among Latino (9.8%) and Black (6.9%) children in New York City.

“Parents of children with asthma are very in tune with their child’s symptoms moment to moment, and the disease can be very dangerous and frightening,” said Dr. George L. Askew, Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Family and Child Health. “What is most important is that they give their child daily medicine as directed by their doctor, and make sure schools, child care providers and other caregivers also know how to effectively manage asthma so that children never have to have an attack.”

"As the borough with the highest rate of asthma in children, this campaign will further remind Bronx parents of the importance of daily managing and monitoring their children's asthma," said Senator Gustavo Rivera. "As a person suffering from asthma, I applaud the New York City Health Department's efforts in providing parents with the adequate resources that will allow them to help their children live happy and healthy lives.”

"Health disparities, especially asthma, have disproportionally affected vulnerable communities throughout my district - especially in The Bronx and East Harlem. Asthma affects an estimated 84,000 children under the age of 12 in New York City, with a higher percentage of these children residing in East Harlem and The Bronx. Many thanks to the Health Department for educating parents on daily management plans for their child's asthma and encouraging them to work with their schools and caregivers on knowing how exactly to manage this illness,” said Senator José M. Serrano.

“It’s important for parents and their children living with asthma to know that life goes on despite this chronic disease. Early diagnosis, daily management through medication and awareness of symptoms and triggers, is the difference between living with the condition, or suffering from it. I applaud the city’s Health Department for this outreach campaign. Asthma can be frightening for those afflicted with it. It takes the support of the family, school and community to give children the support and confidence they need to know that even with asthma they can live happy and active lives,” said Senator Martin Malavé Dilan.

“This campaign continues the critical work of the Health Department in making sure New York City children have a healthy start,” said Senator Jesse Hamilton.  “It is particularly important for neighborhoods I represent that face the challenge of asthma hospitalizations at high rates - neighborhoods like Brownsville, where hospitalizations for children were nearly twice the Brooklyn and citywide rate as reported by the 2015 Community Health Profile. Connecting the dots in asthma management, linking parents, caregivers, and schools, and raising awareness will promote healthy outcomes and avert crises. I salute the Health Department for this campaign and stand ready to aid in advancing this important message.”     

"As the Senator representing the South Bronx where asthma rates are the highest in the nation, I support these health awareness initiatives to help parents manage their children's asthma,” said Senator Ruben Díaz Sr. “I will continue to fight for every available resource so our families and children can have access to healthy food, regular exercise, and quality medical care."

“The rate of asthma remains far too high in New York and many other cities.  But asthma is a manageable disease.  The city Health Department’s public information campaign is targeting communities in New York where children’s asthma is particularly widespread and the message is most needed,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health.

“I commend the Health Department for this effort to educate families and communities as a whole on the care of children with asthma.  Too often, parents do not know that asthma is a chronic disease with no cure – presently – but that it can be controlled through proper care.   As a parent, grandparent and elected representative, I have been and continue to be cognizant of those medical conditions that impact children.  I ask that parents take heed and stay abreast of information provided by the Health Department so that their children can enjoy a happy and healthy life,” said Assembly Member Annette Robinson.

“The threat of Asthma continues to be a reality for thousands of children and families in New York.  In East Harlem, for example, children are sent to emergency rooms for asthma three times as often as children in other parts of the city.  This new educational campaign is a much needed reminder for parents, caretakers and children, that proper management of Asthma is essential to maintaining good health, preventing attacks, and staying out of the hospital.  I applaud the Department of Health for launching this important resource that will have a strong impact at multiple levels, including helping to reduce Asthma-related school absenteeism - one of the many issues that stem from the Asthma crisis,” said Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez.

“By developing a daily management plan with their physician, parents of children with asthma can help their sons and daughters live happy, healthy lives. I applaud Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett and the Health Department for this public service campaign and thank them for their targeted efforts to improve the health of children in neighborhoods with high asthma rates. While asthma can't be cured, it can be controlled and I am hopefully this campaign encourages all parents of children with asthma to develop management plans that sets our young people up for success,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson.

“Growing up in the South Bronx, I myself have suffered from asthma, and know firsthand why it’s important to help educate parents on how to help their children,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr. “As we fight for cleaner air, it’s important to know about the resources we have available for children suffering with asthma.”

It is especially important for parents to have an Asthma Medication Administration Form (MAF) on file with their child’s school nurse. A new form should be filled out and given to your child’s school nurse at the beginning of every school year.  Please visit nyc.gov/health/asthma to access the form and for instructions on filling it out and returning to the school nurse. 

The Health Department’s East Harlem Asthma Center of Excellence (EHACE) is a community-based program of the Health Department. The Center provides free educational resources, environmental services and case management for families with children with asthma.  EHACE also convenes a network of over 100 pediatric asthma care providers. The coordinated efforts of EHACE and local providers in the last decade have resulted in significant reductions in the hospitalizations for children in East and Central Harlem. For more information about EHACE please call 1-888-247-8811 or email ehace@health.nyc.gov.

The Office of School Health’s Asthma Case Management Program is a new program launched this school year in community schools serving grades K-8. The goal is to support students with asthma and their families through improved collaboration with community providers for medication administration in school, enhanced asthma management education and referrals to appropriate asthma resources. The program consists of health educators and social workers working in collaboration with school health nurses and physicians to deliver services.  School Health clinicians and staff also provide asthma medication administration and asthma management education for all students with asthma in all schools.

For more information on daily management of your child’s asthma, visit nyc.gov/health or call 311.

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Christopher Miller/Carolina Rodríguez: (347) 396-4177
pressoffice@health.nyc.gov