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IHS Head Start Logo Indian Health Service Head Start Program

801 Vassar Dr., NE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
Phone: (505) 248-7694
Fax: (505) 248-7728

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Home Head Start Providers Head Start Families
Nationwide Programs and Initiatives
Focus Areas: Environmental Health

There are many environmental hazards that can affect the health of children. Environmental Health hazards identified in Head Start centers range from structural concerns to basic sanitation, food safety to playground safety, room size to the number of enrolled children, blood borne pathogen's policy to emergency evacuation policies, air quality to asthma, etc. The quality of the child's whole environment within the Head Start program as well as at home is critical to the child's overall health.

AI/AN Head Start centers are reviewed on a regular basis by IHS and Tribal environmental health specialists. The leading environmental health challenges were:

  1. Fire prevention & emergency response
  2. Outdoor environment (playground areas)
  3. Plumbing
  4. Infectious disease control
  5. Functional design and structure
  6. Lighting and electrical
  7. Sanitation and disinfection
  8. Medication handling/Storage and administration
  9. Transportation

According to the FY 2001 Indian Health Focus, the leading cause of hospitalizations for AI/AN children was respiratory illness. Also, according to the Head Start Program Information Reports, there is an increased trend in asthma among AI/AN Head Start children.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that is characterized by intermittent, recurring episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, tightness of the chest and coughing.

  • Over the past 15 years, the number of Americans afflicted with asthma has doubled to an estimated 15 million people, including an estimated 4.4 million children.
  • Of the nine million children diagnosed with asthma, 17.3 percent were African American, 20.7 percent American Indian, 12 percent Hispanic, and 6.8 percent were Asian Americans. 29.7% were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.


Photo of children playing in a playground

This file last modified: Friday June 6, 2008  3:34 PM