A team from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore suggests that inner-city black children with asthma need four checkups annually, not two, as is commonly recommended. “In as little as three months, we saw symptoms worsen,” says Hemant Sharma, MD, an asthma specialist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Why? Greater urban air pollution, rodent and roach allergens, and inability to afford medical care.

Sharma offers parents these tips:

  • Kids should take their controller meds or daily pills as directed, even if they’re not displaying symptoms.
  • Watch for wheezing and coughing, frequent use of rescue inhalers, and limited physical activity resulting from their condition.
  • Don’t smoke in front of your child.