Kamyle Dunn used to sleep with her hand resting on her mother’s chest so she could feel it expand and contract and know that her mom hadn’t stopped breathing during the night. Dunn’s mother, Maria Cotto, has long had severe asthma. Dunn inherited the condition, though she has mostly grown out of it as an adult. Now, Dunn’s 12-year-old son also has severe asthma. “People kind of shrug it off as not that big of a deal,” said Dunn, who lives with her family in East Harford. “But I see what it’s done to my mother, and I see what it’s doing to my son, and what it has done to me.”
In Connecticut, 10.6% of children and 10.5% of adults have asthma, according to state data from 2019. According to DataHaven’s 2021 Community Wellbeing survey, 12% of adults have asthma.
It was a 70-degree day in January 2014, and Cristin Buckley was at her daughter’s basketball game with her husband and twin sons. The boys were planning to head to Target to buy baseball cards after the game, but before they could leave, 7-year-old Ben said he was having difficulty breathing and needed a nebulizer treatment. Ben’s dad took him home. “My husband called me and said, ‘Have you ever done a nebulizer treatment and have it not work?’ and I said, ‘No,’ and at that point he realized something was wrong,” Buckley said. Forty minutes after they left the basketball game, Ben was unconscious in their driveway.
Robert Carmon had a rough start to life. Shortly after birth he developed asthma, a chronic disease that causes inflammation in the lungs and difficulty breathing. His attacks were so severe as an infant that his parents rushed him to the emergency room practically every week. They were terrified he might die. Today, at age 7, Robert’s asthma has stabilized.
Ava Passley covered her nose and giggled as Dr. Jacob Hen walked into an examination room at his pediatric pulmonology office in Trumbull recently. Ava, 3, of Bridgeport, knows what to expect from a visit with Hen, having dealt with asthma since she was 1. She also spent several nights in the hospital after an attack in 2012. “I had always heard about wheezing, but had never really heard it before that,” her mother, Beverly Passley said. Ava is part of growing number of people in Connecticut who have used the emergency room for asthma symptoms, according to the most recent figures from the state Department of Public Health.
Connecticut is the only New England state—and one of just three nationally—to have no hospitals designated as “Top Performers” by The Joint Commission, which issued an annual report gauging the performance of more than 3,300 accredited hospitals on 45 accountability measures linked to positive patient outcomes.
Residents in Connecticut’s five largest cities are nearly three times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma – and twice as likely to die from it—as residents in the rest of the state, according to new data from the state Department of Public Health.