Contra Costa County Asthma Coalition
The Facts about Asthma
May 2004 is designated as Asthma Awareness Month and May 4th is World Asthma Day. During
May, organizations nationwide work together on activities to raise public awareness about the
growing asthma epidemic, and ways to prevent asthma in our schools and communities.
Asthma has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. As many as 15 million people are
affected by this chronic disease, including 4.8 million children. Asthma is a serious and growing
health problem for children and young adults. In California, prevalence is highest among
children 12 - 17. Asthma prevalence varies greatly among populations and is higher in urban
low- income and minority communities, such as African-Americans. According to a recent
survey, African-American children in Contra Costa County (CCC) are four times more likely to
be hospitalized for asthma compared to white, non- Hispanic children.
Asthma can be a debilitating and life-threatening disease without appropriate diagnosis and
treatment. Limited access to health care, lack of effective education about asthma management,
and exposure to triggers such as smoking and other air pollutants are three key factors increasing
the severity of this problem in our community.
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases affecting children in the U.S. Asthma can
be dangerous to children, severely affecting their ability to learn, speak, eat and play.
The prevalence of asthma has been increasing steadily over the past 20 years with the largest
increases in asthma among children under the age of five (Landrigan et al., 2004,
Environmental Health Perspectives, 112 (2): 257-265).
About 1 in 8 Californians report that they have been diagnosed with asthma (California
Health Interview Survey, 2001).
Numerous areas in the County have child hospitalization rates higher than the state average.
Some communities, such as Richmond, have child hospitalization rates nearly twice as high
as the state average, a sign of health disparities within the County. (Office of Statewide
Development and Planning, CA Dept. of Health Services, 2000)
A recent study identified 11 communities at risk for Asthma within CCC, which
represented 63% of the county’s people of color and 44% of its low-income households
About one in five African-American children have asthma overall. In addition, the asthma
prevalence among foster children has been about three times the national average (Halfon et
al., 1995, Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 149: 386-392).
Asthma is the #1 cause of school absenteeism in children in the U.S., and results in missed
workdays and lost productivity in adults. (National Health Interview Survey, 2001; Mannino
et al., 2002, MMWR, 50 (SS01): 1-13)
The total cost of asthma in California was estimated to be $1.27 billion in 1998 (Allergy &
Asthma Foundation of America, http://www.aafa.org/states/display.cfm?State=ca).
Hospitalizations, physicians' services, and medications have represented the largest direct
medical expenditures for asthma in the U.S. (Weiss, Sullivan, Lyttle. 2000. Trends in the
cost of illness for asthma in the United States, 1985-1994. Journal of Allergy and Clinical
Immunology, 106(3): 493-499)
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Emergency room visits and hospitalizations for asthma are a significant burden in Contra
Costa County and throughout the state. (CA Dept. of Health Services, 2003).
Asthma is the leading cause for children’s emergency medical visits in major cities and
metropolitan areas of the U.S. (Landrigan et al., 2004, Environmental Health Perspectives,
112 (2): 257-265)
To address these issues the CCC Asthma Coalition was formed in fall 2001.
“The Contra Costa Asthma Coalition is an inclusive, broad-based partnership of organizations
and individuals whose mission is to strengthen Contra Costa County’s ability to prevent asthma
and improve the lives of people affected by asthma. It does this by: Helping asthma-related
organizations to learn from each other, coordinate their services, and enhance the continuum of
care; Promoting public education and programs that reduce health disparities and are
responsive to the needs of the community, and; Advocating for improved local, state, and federal
asthma programs, policies and legislation.”
Contra Costa County Asthma Coalition Member Activities…
The American Lung Association will conduct asthma education in-services in Head Start and
pre-schools beginning in April 2004.
West County Asthma Coalition - Free, in-home asthma trigger check-ups conducted by lay
community advocates are available to West County residents starting in May 2004.
Contra Costa Health Services, Child Health Disability Prevention Program’s Pediatric
Asthma Provider Training occurred on April 21 in San Pablo for Asthma Awareness Month.
JMMDHS/ Community Health Alliance and Respiratory Services departments began asthma
in-service programs for Mt. Diablo Unified School District school staff and personnel in fall
2003 and are continuing this outreach in 2004. The goal is to provide teachers, staff, and
administrators with education and tools they can utilize to support the asthmatic child.
The Public Health Clinic Services Asthma Program provides assistance to asthmatic children
(under 21) and their families at their homes, at public schools, and at ambulatory care clinics.
Contra Costa Health Plan registered nurses provide asthma care management, home trigger
assessments, phone and in-home education, and parent and staff training.
Brookside Community Health Center and La Clinica de La Raza provide medical and care
management services for adults and children with asthma, seeking to improve their health
outcomes through quality, coordinated services.
The Regional Asthma Management Program (RAMP) held workshops for local coalitions in
winter 2003-04 on “Asthma and Diesel” and “Asthma and School Indoor Air Quality.”
These activities were funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the California Endowment, Kaiser
Permanente, John Muir/Mt. Diablo Health System, and the Environmental Protection Agency
For further asthma information, please go to the following Internet sites:
American Lung Association of California - http://www.californialung.org/support/asthma.shtml
Contra Costa Health Services Asthma Programs - http://cchealth.org/cchealthPages/pages/asthma/
Regional Asthma Management Program – www.rampasthma.org
Community Action to Fight Asthma - http://www.calasthma.org
Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics – http://www.aanma.org/
CA Dept. of Health Services – http://www.ehib.org/cma/project.jsp?project_key=CABR01
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