Report assessing school-based policies that address the health of students released by AAFA

Updated Report Also Features New 'Honorable Mention' States that Made Progress in 2009

For over 8 million children with asthma, food allergies and related conditions, the school-house is a focal point for managing their diseases. Now for the second year in a row, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has released a report assessing school-based policies that address student health for elementary, middle and high schools in all 50 states.

The goal of the Foundation's annual State Honor Roll(TM) of Asthma and Allergy Policies for Schools is to identify ongoing, state-level progress towards better school-based policies and practices, and to provide a blueprint for asthma and allergy advocates nationwide.

This year's Honor Roll list looks similar to last year's: the six states with the largest number of supportive asthma and allergy school policies were the same six states named in the report last year. But the updated 2009 report also includes new information, including a list of "honorable mention" states that have shown significant progress over the past year, new interactive links to relevant policies in each state, and additional expanded state rankings on special "extra credit" indicators.

The 2009 Honor Roll states are:

  • Connecticut
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington

For the report, three broad categories of policy types were assessed: Medication & Treatment, Awareness and School Environment. Within these categories AAFA research and policy experts, in consultation with leaders in the fields of medicine, education and advocacy, identified 18 types of "policy standards" relating to asthma and allergies in schools across the U.S.

"We are pleased that the six states we're honoring retained their state-wide school policies to address the needs of school students with asthma, food allergies, anaphylaxis and other related allergic diseases," says Charlotte Collins, JD, AAFA's Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, and lead author of the report.

In this year's report, AAFA also recognizes five states for "honorable mention." While many states considered new laws, these five succeeded in passing noteworthy measures to protect students' access to their own medications, document chronic diseases, enhance awareness programs for asthma and anaphylaxis, prevent tobacco addiction in teens or address indoor and outdoor air quality.

"I am proud of my home state of Connecticut and all of the other states making strides in their local schools in terms of the number of supportive policies, but also those who have shown significant improvement since last year's report," says Chris Cole, AAFA's National Chair.

The 2009 Honorable Mention states are:

  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • West Virginia

Overall, AAFA found that states are stepping-up to address the needs of students with asthma and allergies in school settings. Most states are protecting students' access to their own medications and documenting chronic diseases, and most states are engaged in education and awareness programs for asthma and allergies. This is good news since there is mounting evidence that education programs in schools can significantly improve asthma outcomes.

"A new study published in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of Asthma shows that with AAFA's Power Breathing(TM) asthma education program for adolescents, teens experienced more symptom-free days," according to Collins, "and the Journal further found that costs for this educational intervention were on-par with pharmaceutical interventions."

About half of the states do not require schools to develop emergency protocols for asthma and anaphylaxis emergencies. Only four recommend that schools provide at least one nurse per 750 students.

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