Healthy Choices

Breathe deep: Parents can get free asthma screening for kids

For kids, asthma can be a chronic condition that disrupts class time, sleeping, homework and outdoor playing.

In an effort to get more Sacramento schoolchildren tested and help their families manage the condition, a mobile asthma screening clinic is opening Wednesday evening to serve up to 150 families on a first-come, first-serve basis. At the free event, families can receive screenings and talk to allergy specialists about inhalers and asthma symptoms.

“We find people whose children have asthma issues (and) who have gone to the emergency room multiple times, been pulled from school because they’re sick or repeatedly had bronchitis. We hope the screenings give parents the tools they need to better manage their symptoms,” said Katie Valenzuela Garcia, health advocacy program manager for the Sacramento area office of Breathe California, a nonprofit group that sponsors clean air, lung health and anti-tobacco programs.

Sponsored by Breathe California’s Sacramento office and the UC Davis Health System, the clinic will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at John Still Middle School, 2250 John Still Drive. Two Kaiser Permanente allergy specialists will conduct two asthma tests per family. Participants can then take the printed results to their primary care doctor. They’ll also receive a $10 Target or Wal-Mart gift card.

Next year, Breathe California is continuing its free series of parent asthma classes to help low-income families learn how to best cope with their children’s asthma issues. Sponsored by Kaiser Permanente and UC Davis Health Systems, the next series will be held at three elementary schools: March 2 at Pacific Elementary; March 9 at Father Keith B. Kenny; and April 5 at Ethel Phillips. In the last three years, the classes have met with about 150 households.

The clinics are part of continuing statewide efforts to combat asthma, which afflicts an estimated 3 million Californians. Each year, California sees about 189,700 new asthma cases, including more than 96,500 children, according to a 2013 report by the state Department of Public Health. Statewide, the rates of emergency room visits for asthma symptoms among children ages 5 to 17 increased about 18 percent between 2005 and 2012, according to a Kaiser Health analysis.

For more information about Wednesday’s screening or the asthma parent classes, contact Breathe California’s Garcia at 916-444-5900, ext. 215, or by email: kgarcia@sacbreathe.org.

Claudia Buck: 916-321-1968, @Claudia_Buck

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