Dr. Genny Carrillo, associate professor and director of the Program on Asthma Research at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, was asked by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to research how to address the number of hospitalizations for asthma in the Rio Grande Valley, which was out of proportion to the number of asthma diagnoses in the region.
She discovered that there was much about Hispanic culture that can exacerbate asthma such as burning candles from Mexico that have lead in their wicks; reaching for chemicals instead of a shoe to kill roaches; using strong-scented household cleaners; and holding the belief that Chihuahua dogs take asthma away from children. She developed a curriculum in 2008 to teach parents, teachers and school nurses how to create healthy environments for children with asthma. The lessons go over asthma signs and symptoms, medication management and adherence, and action plans in case of emergency. They also cover how to reduce common asthma triggers, like household cleaning products and air fresheners, by using healthy alternatives that are good for the environment, ourselves and our wallets. The program’s goal was to decrease emergency room visits, missed school and work days, and improve the overall quality of life for children with asthma and their families. For the past 11 years, Dr. Carrillo has been doing just that with great success in South Texas communities, and hopes to expand her program to other parts of the state.
“It is very fulfilling for me as a Latino mother and physician scientist to meet mothers and take time to learn their issues and teach them things they can do to avoid illness and hospitalizations for their family. I am able to empathize with them because I am also a mother who wants the best for my children,” Dr. CarrilloTags: Friday Letter Submission, Publish on September 20