By Kara Belle
In 2002, we moved from Texas to Atlanta with my perfectly healthy 8-month old. Within a month, my daughter was in the hospital, with a flushed face, blue lips, a high fever and straining for every breath. The doctors would treat her and we would go home, but two to three weeks later we would be back in the emergency room for the same thing. It got so bad that my daughter's pediatrician requested that I remove her from daycare for six weeks so that her body would have time to heal and recover. My mom kept my daughter in her home during this time and miraculously she had no breathing problems, no fever, and looked great! But as soon as I brought her home, she was ill within hours. This was my ah-ha moment. It was my apartment!
Upon closer inspection, I found mold underneath sinks and around windows in my apartment. I also recounted the numerous times her daycare would flood during heavy rains. In addition, we lived a stone's throw from a major interstate. I later learned outdoor pollutants like emissions from cars, factories, and power plants can contribute to asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses.
My daughter was diagnosed with asthma but no one ever sent me home with tips on what environmental exposures may be triggering her asthma and respiratory infections. I can't tell you how much I have learned since then. I bought books, searched the Internet, talked to other moms and found some really great information on asthma triggers and allergens both indoors and outdoors. I don't want other parents or caregivers to go through an arduous and unnecessary learning curve as I did.
Most importantly, I've learned the importance of working with your child's doctor to help create an Asthma Action Plan to prevent future asthma attacks. This is an essential preventative step toward managing asthma. Although, there is no cure for asthma yet, asthma can be controlled through medical treatment and management of environmental triggers. Had I known about the Asthma Action Plan earlier, my sweet baby girl would not have had to suffer needlessly as she did.
I always try to share my story with other parents who are becoming sadly aware of the asthma epidemic. Please join me and share your story. The more we talk about the importance of a healthy environment the better we can champion children's health as parents, as a community, and as a nation.
About the author: Kara Belle works in the EPA's Office of Children's Health Protection
If you have mold or suspect an indoor air quality problem, contact your nearest AdvantaCleanlocation for a professional evaluation of your problem.