Cobb & Douglas Public Health (CDPH) is partnering with the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) Georgia Asthma Control Program to reduce the burden of asthma. The goal of the program is to help improve the quality of life of those living with the illness by teaching local childcare centers how to properly recognize and respond to asthma symptoms.

Asthma can cause wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing. Although it cannot be cured, it is possible to manage asthma to reduce and prevent asthma attacks by avoiding triggers such as tobacco smoke, mold, and outdoor air pollution and by using prescribed daily long-term control medicines correctly.

According to the 2013 Georgia Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, nearly one in 10 children in Georgia has asthma. Younger children, ages 0 – 4, have the highest rates of uncontrolled asthma. This age group greatly contributed to an estimated $76 million spent in asthma-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations, according to 2012 Georgia Hospital Inpatient Discharge and Georgia Emergency Room Visit Data.

Childcare providers have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children with asthma.  CDPH uses the Georgia Asthma Management Education in Childcare Settings (GAME-CS) curriculum created by the Georgia Asthma Control Program to teach childcare center staff to appropriately respond to asthma emergencies, to recognize asthma symptoms and triggers, to become knowledgeable about asthma medication and devices, and to successfully maintain an asthma-friendly environment.

Pearline Cole, owner of Wee Care Academy Preschool and Development Center in Douglas County said, “I am so happy we participated in this training.  A large number of the children we provide service for have asthma and their parents routinely administer the treatments. Since we were a ‘medicine free center,’ parents would either keep the child home when they have an asthma episode, or they would come in and administer the treatments as needed. It really put a hardship on the parents, so when our staff became trained in this area, the parents were very happy and grateful.”

After learning the importance of an Asthma Action Plan during GAME-CS training, Wee Care Academy Preschool and Development Center worked with parents to get an Asthma Action Plan on file for each child diagnosed with asthma. An Asthma Action Plan is personal, step-by-step guide created by a healthcare professional, to manage and prevent asthma episodes. It outlines what causes an asthma episode, what medicines to take, when to take them, and when to seek medical help. This plan can aid in preventing and controlling an asthma-related emergency in a timely and organized manner.

For more information about asthma, GAME-CS, or becoming an Asthma-Friendly Childcare Center,  call 770-319-4716.