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Pennsylvania's Asthma School Project and descriptive pilot investigation: a focus on environmental health tracking.

* According to CDC, asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood.

* Its prevalence has been increasing.

* Asthma-tracking efforts at the state and local levels have, however, been limited.

* The Pew Environmental Health Commission has designated asthma as a top priority for health outcome tracking in the states.

* The Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) initiated the Asthma School Project in 2004.

* The project tracked childhood asthma in Pennsylvania school districts through the existing reporting system.

* Since 1997-1998, school nurses in Pennsylvania have reported

-- a count of the total number of students with asthma,

-- the average daily enrollment, and

-- the calculated rate (percentage) of students with asthma for each school district.

* They identify students with asthma on the basis of family and medical information made available to them.

* The reporting of asthma by school nurses appears to be a reliable data source.

* The project also found that asthma has increased steadily from a low of 6.6 percent during 1997-1998 to a high of 9.2 percent during 2002-2003.

* The participating school districts had the highest rates of asthma in Pennsylvania.

* PADOH could nevertheless find no obvious environmental factors associated either with prevalence rates or with unusual asthma episodes.

* The Asthma School Project also provided head school nurses with paper and electronic copies of a PADOH-approved Asthma Action Plan.

* The goal of the action plan was to encourage nurses, parents, students, and physicians to coordinate each child's asthma management.

* Also as part of the project, PADOH held an asthma training session in each community for school nurses and care providers.

* The school districts were put in contact with U.S. EPA regarding the Tools for Schools program, which helps schools identify potential indoor air quality issues.

* PADOH contacted local media to disseminate information on the project.

* The authors encourage other jurisdictions to track asthma rates in schools and investigate potential environmental exposures in homes and schools.

* Such efforts could provide information to help define and address many of the issues and questions about asthma in schools.
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Title Annotation:Practical Stuff!
Publication:Journal of Environmental Health
Date:Oct 1, 2007
Words:335
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