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Advocacy group joins doctors to help families of children with asthma on World Asthma Day

By Kimberly Craig

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    DETROIT (WXYZ) — Khyra Jackson remembers the day her daughter first showed signs that she was struggling to breathe.

“She was just playing and it took her awhile to catch her breath and I thought that was kind of weird because she had been totally fine up until that point,” Jackson told 7 Action News as four-year-old Treasure met with doctors inside the Asthma and Allergy Clinic of Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

“I encouraged her, ‘If your chest hurts or if you can’t breathe,’ let mommy know or let somebody know,” said Jackson.

The family’s appointment for Treasure falls on World Asthma Day, an annual event aimed at improving asthma awareness and care around the world. And right here in Michigan, particularly Southeast Michigan, the need for awareness is vital.

“Southeast Michigan has a lot of the triggers; poor air quality, lots of pollen, and, in the city itself, we have a lot of vectors that can lead to the allergy,” said Kathleen Slonager, Executive Director of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Michigan chapter.

In Michigan, 8.4 percent of children reportedly have asthma. And, according to researchers, in Connecticut, 11.8 percent of all children were estimated to currently suffer from asthma.

And genetics also has a lot to do with it.

For Treasure, her dad and grandmother both have asthma.

To help gain awareness and the understanding that controlling asthma is key, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America delivered dozens of backpacks to the clinic Tuesday, each filled with everything from an allergy-friendly stuffed animal, a guide to managing asthma, an asthma action plan, a peak flow meter as well as instructions on how to use one.

The instructional information is what can help parents and guardians really help their children achieve success in controlling the disease.

“It’s extremely important,” said Lana Hardin, President of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Michigan chapter.

Hardin, whose son also has asthma, said getting children into the habit of understanding what they need to avoid can help them lead healthy lives.

But, for some families, staying on top of controlling asthma is difficult.

“Since it’s a chronic disease, you need a daily medication. It is very hard for the family to stay on top of it and then do that on a daily basis,” said Dr. Pavadee Poowuttikul, also known as Dr. Dee, of DMC Allergy and Immunology.

To help patients and their families understand how asthma works, Dr. Dee performs a skin test to show the inflammation caused by allergic reactions.

“The patient can visualize that. Their parents can see that. So I say this thing can happen, too, in the airway, we just don’t see it,” said Dr. Dee.

For information on the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Michigan Chapter, you can visit aafamich.org.

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