School classrooms, hallways and playgrounds to be intervention points for kids with asthma

December 14, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 14, 2010 - Teachers and education support professionals are about to get the information they need to help the growing number of students in America who have childhood asthma - one of the most common chronic diseases among children. Today, the National Education Association (NEA), the NEA Health Information Network (NEA HIN) and the Merck Childhood Asthma Network, Inc. (MCAN) are launching a free online training program that will educate the 3.2 million members of NEA on how to help students better manage their asthma while at school. The online training can be accessed at and is also available to other members of the school community such as parents, principals, superintendents, and facility managers.

Nationwide estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that asthma is present in every school across the country, likely affecting three children per classroom of thirty students. (1) A closer look at available community-level data indicates that some communities carry an even heavier burden, with up to 40 percent of children living with asthma in some areas. (2) The condition, which is largely manageable, accounts for children missing nearly 13 million school days each year (3) and costs the nation $10 billion in indirect costs related to school absenteeism and missed workdays for caregivers. (4)

"When we give teachers and other school professionals resources to support student learning, everyone benefits," said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. "I am proud that NEA, MCAN, and the NEA Health Information Network are partnering in this way to increase awareness about asthma and asthma management."

The online course, Managing Asthma in the School Environment, provides teachers, bus drivers, food service workers, custodians, and other school staff with essential information about the condition, allowing them to be better prepared to help students manage their asthma while at school. It includes an overview of asthma including its causes; signs and symptoms; tips for controlling and treating asthma; and, strategies for creating asthma-friendly schools. Additionally, it provides suggested changes that can be made to reduce triggers in school environments, such as removing upholstered furniture and ensuring good indoor environmental quality.

Instructional content in the course stems from the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program's Expert Panel Report 3 (5) as well as evidence-based learnings and findings from on-the-ground programs and other research on childhood asthma. (6) The MCAN-funded Los Angeles Unified School District Comprehensive Asthma Program for example, has successfully trained staff to recognize the symptoms of asthma. Children in the program have experienced a significant reduction in emergency room visits for acute asthma episodes. The program has also been successful in reducing daytime and nighttime symptoms and improving asthma control between baseline and three months.

"When it comes to managing asthma, while the doctor plays a key role, it's also important to train the team of people who care for students with asthma almost every day. That's an effective way to help keep asthma under control," said Floyd Malveaux, Executive Director of MCAN, the only national non-profit organization focused solely on childhood asthma.

"Growing up with asthma can be challenging. Students whose asthma is not under good control may have a tough time participating in physical activity, sleeping through the night, or concentrating during the school day. By helping students manage their asthma they can lead healthy, active lives like everyone else," said Jerry Newberry, NEA HIN Executive Director.
About MCAN

The Merck Childhood Asthma Network, Inc. (MCAN) is a separately incorporated, non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization established to address the complex and growing problem of pediatric asthma. Funded by the Merck Company Foundation and led by Floyd Malveaux, MD, PhD, a nationally recognized expert in asthma and allergic diseases and former Dean of the Howard University College of Medicine, MCAN is specifically focused on enhancing access to quality asthma care and management for children in the United States. For more information visit

About NEA

The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. For more information, please visit


As the non-profit health affiliate of the NEA, the NEA Health Information Network (NEA HIN) provides health and safety information to the 3.2 million educational employees and students it serves. NEA HIN distributes information nationally through NEA's 51 state/territory affiliates as well as 14,000 local education associations. For more information, please visit


(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Creating Asthma Friendly Schools. Accessed on March 15, 2010.

(2) Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Environmental Health. Accessed on March 15, 2010.

(3) Akinbami L. Asthma Prevalence, Health care use and mortality: United States, 2003-05, Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2006.

(4) American Lung Association. Asthma and Children Fact Sheet. Accessed on March 15, 2010.

(5) Guidelines of the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel report 3. US DHHS/NHLBI, NIH Publication Number 08-5846. 2008.

(6) Asthma Basics for Schools and Managing Asthma: A Guide for Schools. National Asthma Education and Prevention Program. and Accessed on April 7, 2010.

The Merck Childhood Asthma Network, Inc.

Related Asthma Articles from Brightsurf:

Breastfeeding and risks of allergies and asthma
In an Acta Paediatrica study, exclusive breastfeeding for the first 3 months was linked with a lower risk of respiratory allergies and asthma when children reached 6 years of age.

Researchers make asthma breakthrough
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin have made a breakthrough that may eventually lead to improved therapeutic options for people living with asthma.

Physics vs. asthma
A research team from the MIPT Center for Molecular Mechanisms of Aging and Age-Related Diseases has collaborated with colleagues from the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany to determine the spatial structure of the CysLT1 receptor.

New knowledge on the development of asthma
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have studied which genes are expressed in overactive immune cells in mice with asthma-like inflammation of the airways.

Eating fish may help prevent asthma
A scientist from James Cook University in Australia says an innovative study has revealed new evidence that eating fish can help prevent asthma.

Academic performance of urban children with asthma worse than peers without asthma
A new study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shows urban children with poorly controlled asthma, particularly those who are ethnic minorities, also suffer academically.

Asthma Controller Step Down Yardstick -- treatment guidance for when asthma improves
The focus for asthma treatment is often stepping up treatment, but clinicians need to know how to step down therapy when symptoms improve.

Asthma management tools improve asthma control and reduce hospital visits
A set of comprehensive asthma management tools helps decrease asthma-related visits to the emergency department, urgent care or hospital and improves patients' asthma control.

Asthma linked to infertility but not among women taking regular asthma preventers
Women with asthma who only use short-acting asthma relievers take longer to become pregnant than other women, according to research published in the European Respiratory Journal.

What are the best ways to diagnose and manage asthma?
A team of experts from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston examined the current information available from many different sources on diagnosing and managing mild to moderate asthma in adults and summarized them.

Read More: Asthma News and Asthma Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to