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Illinois Schools Make Asthma and Allergy Honor Roll

Illinois schools are among the best in the nation for breathing, so to speak. Credit: NIAID/Flickr
Illinois schools are among the best in the nation for breathing, so to speak. Credit: NIAID/Flickr
August 13, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – As Illinois children return to class this month, parents can be assured their children are learning in some of the best schools nationally for asthma and allergy protection.

For the first time, Illinois was named to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's Honor Roll, along with 12 other states and Washington, D.C.

Larissa Kaczaniuk, the foundation's advocacy and outreach manager, says the foundation identified states with the most comprehensive policies in elementary, middle and high schools to protect children at risk for asthma or allergies.

"We've got 7 million children with asthma in the United States, and 6 million with food allergies, so it's impacting a lot of kids," she says. "With asthma especially, there are a lot of external triggers that can worsen asthma attacks, so it's really important to make sure we've got healthy school environments that kids are learning in, and they're not missing school days."

Kaczaniuk says asthma is the leading cause of school absences due to a chronic illness, accounting for more than 10 million missed school days each year.

To make the honor roll, states must meet 18 of 23 policies covering medication, access to care and the school environment.

Kaczaniuk says the list then allows parents and schools to examine areas that need to be addressed.

"Illinois is looking at a problem with the nurse-to-student ratio, and also indoor air quality indicators that they had not met," she explains. "Those are the two areas that we would like to see improvement, but it's great that Illinois has made the honor roll this year."

This is the eighth year for the report, and Kaczaniuk notes a major improvement in the number of states authorizing schools to keep medications on hand to treat severe allergic reactions.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL