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My Story: All My Patients are Adversely Affected by Poor Air Quality

My Story: All My Patients are Adversely Affected by Poor Air Quality
My name is Shanna Stephen. I am a 2nd year Pediatric Resident at Morehouse School of Medicine and a supporter of Mothers & Others for Clean Air. I first connected with M&O while on an advocacy rotation, during which I discovered the true importance of clean air.

I see and treat children of all ages and with very different backgrounds daily. Whether they are premature or have an underlying chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma, they are all adversely affected by poor air quality. Clean air is important to me because of the large number of children I treat with asthma and the resultant complications due to air pollution. As an asthmatic myself, it breaks my heart to see a child in tears in the Emergency Room, gripping their chest, because they are unable to breathe. Or, to hear a parent describe their fear of going to sleep at night because they fear that their child may stop breathing.

While many children are able to get to the hospital if they have an asthma exacerbation and receive therapy, there are many that are not as lucky. An asthma exacerbation can cause lung spasms and quickly lead to cardiac arrest. Every day, 9 people die from asthma. Yes, as simple as asthma sounds, there are children that die from it daily. These are attacks that could have been prevented entirely if the air quality was safer for these children to play outside without going into a full-blown asthma attack.

My hopes for the future are that we can limit carbon emissions and promote community education for clean air. Children should not be limited to certain times when they can go outside and experience one of our most precious resources – air.