EPA grant to fund asthma research program

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Perfume, cigarette smoke, mold, pet dander. They're just some of the irritants that can trigger attacks of asthma.

A new grant-funded program hopes to pinpoint these so-called "environmental triggers" in the homes of Southeast Missouri children suffering from asthma.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency awarded a $21,460 grant to Southeast Missouri State University to conduct an asthma education program over the next 12 months.

The goal: reduce the number of emergency room visits by children suffering from asthma.

Dr. John Kraemer, director of the Center for Environmental Analysis at Southeast, will head up the project.

Southeast Missouri Hospital and the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center also are partners in the project, along with a number of doctors who treat asthma patients in the region.

Acting on referrals, Kraemer will visit the homes of children with asthma to determine if there are indoor pollutants and what steps can be taken to reduce those irritants.

The project hopes to help 300 children with asthma and their families, he said.

The project should start by November, said Kraemer who focuses on public health issues as a member of the university's biology department.

Kraemer said he hopes the project will get renewed grant funding next year.

Charlotte Craig, director of the county health center, said education is vital to dealing with asthma.

"There is so much information to take in," she said. "You have to change your lifestyle."

Much of the grant will go for educational materials that will be disseminated to the asthma patients and their families.

Asthma affects 7 percent of Americans. About 33 percent of them are under the age of 18, Kraemer said.

Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children, he said. It's the leading non-injury cause of hospitalization for children 15 years of age and younger, and a common medical cause for missed school days.


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