DHHS Reminds Parents They Are Children’s Best Defense Against an Asthma

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services is continually monitoring the health of New Hampshire’s growing population. One such concern is asthma. According to data from the report released recently by the New England Asthma Regional Council, Living with Asthma in New England: Results for the 2006 BRFSS and Call-back Surveys, 70% of adults with asthma in New Hampshire are living with asthma that is either “not well controlled” or “very poorly controlled.” Almost 65% of New Hampshire children under 8 years of age who have asthma are living with the same poorly controlled symptoms.


“We can do better,” said Nicholas Toumpas, Commissioner of DHHS, “and we owe it to our children and ourselves to do all we can to manage asthma better. Asthma is a controllable disease with proper medication, but it can be a complex illness.”


Additionally, the report states that both adults and children report frequent asthma symptoms and urgent care visits for asthma: 71% of adults report having had symptoms in the last month and 20% report an urgent care visit in the last year, while 54% of children had symptoms in the last month and 27% an urgent care visit for asthma in the last year. There is a strong relationship between the environment and the health status of someone who has asthma because different environmental factors, such as dust, moisture, mold, secondhand smoke, ozone, and animal dander may contribute to asthma symptoms and attacks in susceptible individuals.


“Smoking and secondhand smoke in particular are big concerns for people with asthma,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health Services at DHHS. “There is a direct correlation between secondhand smoke and asthma and being exposed to secondhand smoke or ash can cause an asthma attack and create more severe symptoms for both children and adults.”


Half of families have been told by their health care provider to modify their living environments, yet 25% of adults with asthma are smokers, and 37% of children with asthma live in smoking households.


The Division of Public Health Services, along with the Asthma Control Program and the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program are committed to helping New Hampshire residents eliminate exposure to smoking and secondhand smoke. Now in New Hampshire, all childcare facilities, public schools, and school grounds are smoke free; public buildings, restaurants and bars are smoke-free also.


Federal recommendations include eliminating smoking in your home and vehicles. Medical providers are encouraged to follow the Clinical Practice Guidelines For Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence (available at www.surgeongeneral.gov/tobacco/treating_tobacco_use.pdf ), which prompt them to ask about tobacco use at every intervention. There are cessation programs available free to New Hampshire residents.


Asthma and quitting smoking are two of the topics DHHS is focusing on this week in recognition of National Public Health Week. For more information on preventing asthma attacks and successfully managing asthma, visit www.AsthmaNow.org or call 1-800-271-0855. For help with quitting tobacco use, go to www.trytostopnh.org or call the NH Smokers’ Helpline at 1-800-Try-To-STOP/1-800-879-8678 or visit www.trytostopnh.org