Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes repeated episodes of chest tightness, wheezing, cough, and shortness of breath.  It can be life threatening. 

Asthma attacks can be triggered by air pollution, allergens (pet dander, pests, mold), tobacco smoke, exercise, and infections. Learn more about asthma triggers in home environments.   

Asthma Data

  • 7.0% of children and 8.0% of adults in the United States currently have asthma as of 2019 (Source: CDC). In Maryland, 7.6% of children have asthma (2018).
  • In 2018, there were 29,534 asthma-related emergency department visits in Maryland (age-adjusted rate of 52.4 per 10,000 residents). Among children under 5, the emergency department visit rate was 119.4 per 10,000 residents.
  •  In 2018, there were 3,113 asthma-related hospitalizations in Maryland, totalling $27.7 billion in healthcare costs.

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For more information, the Maryland Asthma Control Program publishes an annual report on asthma.

​Asthma Disparities in Maryland

Black non-Hispanic children have significantly higher rates of emergency department visits than other children (see figure above). 

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What can you do?

  • Make sure your child is being treated with their inhaler properly.
  • Check the air quality so that you can avoid exposure to ozone, particulate matter, and other asthma triggers during bad air quality days.
  • Develop an Asthma Action Plan, which is a communication tool and a key component of a comprehensive education program for asthma management. The Asthma Action Plan includes information related to treatment schedule and patient self-management.​
  • Prepare for asthma care during an emergency​​​​.

What is Maryland Doing to Improve Asthma Outcomes? 

Maryland Asthma Control Program

​The Maryland Asthma Control Program uses surveillance data from a number of sources to establish priorities for the Maryland Asthma Plan. The Maryland Asthma Control Program publishes an annual report on asthma, as well as a series of data briefs on specific topics:

Statewide Integrated Health Improvement Strategy

The Statewide Integrated Health Improvement Strategy (SIHIS) aligns statewide efforts across three domains that are interrelated and, if addressed successfully, have the potential to make significant improvement in not just Maryland’s healthcare system, but in the health outcomes of Marylanders. One of the goals of SIHIS is to decrease asthma-related emergency department visit rates for children aged 2-17.​ Read more about SIHIS here.

New Home Visiting and Lead Abatement Programs for Families

Maryland has two new programs for families with a child with asthma:

The Healthy Homes for Healthy Kids Program removes lead hazards and asthma triggers​ from the home at no cost.

The Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Environmental Case Management Program provies in-home  services to reduce exposures to lead and to asthma triggers.

Learn more about these programs, including eligibility criteria and availability in your jurisdiction.

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Asthma Frien​dly Schools Program

A safe and supportive learning environment benefits students as well as educators.  In an effort to promote healthy schools for children and staff with asthma, the Maryland Department of Health has created the Asthma Friendly School program to encourage and recognize Maryland schools that create and sustain safe, supportive, and asthma-friendly environments.  

An asthma friendly school supports the health and academic success of students through maximizing asthma management, reducing environmental asthma triggers in the school environment, and building asthma education and awareness programs for students and staff.  Chances for success are better when the entire school community takes part – school health services program staff, school administrators and staff, community health care providers along with the students and parents/guardians.  Here is your chance to support students with asthma! 

The Asthma Friendly School application can be found here​.

Asthma Frien​dly Child Care Program

Children often spend many hours of their day at child care, either in a center or family home. To address the indoor and outdoor child care environment and educate child care providers on the burden of asthma, the Maryland Department of Health has created the Asthma Friendly Child Care program.  The goal of the program is to support the health and early learning of young children through providing excellent asthma management, reducing environmental asthma triggers, and providing asthma education and awareness programs for children in care.

Directions on how to apply to become an Asthma Friendly Child Care, can be found here​.

The application​ for the Asthma Friendly Child Care program is made up of two modules. Both modules must be filled out and submitted to ensure completion of application.

The Environmental Module can be found he​re.

The Management Module can be found here​.​



Reducing asthma-related emergency department visits is a key goal of the Statewide Integrated Health Imrovement Strategy. Read more​.