Asthma is the most common cause of hospital stays for children. It can strike anyone, but has a disproportionate impact on low-income and African-American children. Katy Murphy, a 2012 National Health Journalism Fellow, shares lessons learned from her Fellowship project for the Oakland Tribune
In high school, Pamela Tapia spent more time at home with her inhaler than at school with her teachers. Now that she has moved just a few miles away from the poor air quality in West Oakland, for the first time in four years, she celebrated an asthma-free birthday.
Each year, asthma attacks send tens of thousands of California children to the emergency room. Some are admitted to the hospital for days. In 2010, the state had more than 11,000 such admissions, costing an average of $19,000 apiece. Pollution plays a role.
I’m an education writer. My job at the Oakland Tribune is, mostly, to report on the local public school systems and the people in them. But the context in which children live -- and in the case of this project, breathe -- often comes into my reporting, too. It has to. Asthma is one of those realities.