The rates of asthma-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations dropped in many Connecticut communities, the latest data from the state Department of Public Health show. Overall, 58 percent of communities saw a decrease in the age-adjusted rate of emergency room visits, while 63 percent saw a decrease in the rate of hospitalizations for asthma, according to a C-HIT analysis of the data. Some 36 percent saw improvement in both areas. The data compares age-adjusted rates for each town for 2005-2009 and for 2010-2014 per 10,000 people. Meanwhile, the state’s overall rate for emergency room visits in 2014 was lower than recent years but still was higher than it was 10 years ago.
Despite laws in many states that protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke, exposure remains especially high for children ages 3 to 11, African-Americans, and those who live in poverty or rental housing, according to a recent report. Jessica Hollenbach, the director of asthma programs at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, agreed with the report, done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and said tobacco is a negative toxin that can make other illnesses worse. Hollenbach studies the relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and asthma in children. She said tobacco is an asthma trigger, and children with asthma often have higher exposure to second-hand smoke. In Connecticut, 13.9 percent of public school students have asthma, according to a state Department of Public Health report released last year.