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Sesame Street Launches Asthma, Lead Awareness Campaigns

Burt and Ernie
UnitedHealthcare and Sesame Workshop have launched two joint campaigns to help raise awareness of childhood health issues asthma and lead poisoning.

A Is for Asthma, and Lead Away! are interactive websites, complete with Sesame Street videos, that contain information and resources for parents and kids to cope with or, in the case of lead avoid, these conditions.

Asthma is the number one chronic illness among children, with 7.1 million American kids affected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  And lead poisoning is the most common environmental health issue facing American kids, affecting 250,000 children each year.

The initiatives are meant to educate and protect children and families.  "Sesame Workshop is pleased to extend its partnership with UnitedHealthcare to provide families with free resources and information that can help them keep their children healthy," Gary E. Knell, president and CEO of Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, said in a statement.

The statement contains quick tips for families on each of the conditions:

Tips for Avoiding Asthma Triggers

  1. Keep your home clear of mold and mildew. Routinely check for mold and mildew especially in damp areas, like the bathroom or basement.
  2. Use fragrance-free products. Also, consider getting rid of things that have strong smells, such as perfumes or strong cleaners.
  3. Cut down on dust. Dust and dust mites are common asthma triggers. Instead of carpets, use bare wood floors or small area rugs, which can help cut down on dust in your home. Wipe surfaces every day with a damp rag to get rid of dust. Even stuffed toys and security blankets can trap dust and dust mites. Try to keep only two favorite items on your child's bed, and wash them weekly.
  4. Think about keeping fish or reptiles as pets.  Exposure to the animal dander shed by furry and feathered animals can trigger asthma.

Tips for Avoiding Lead Exposure

  1. Stay away from peeling paint. Set up places for your child to play that are free from peeling paint. Lead-based paint can crack, peel and crumble into dust that children may ingest while eating or breathing.
  2. Stay away from dust. Lead from soil or deteriorating lead-based paint can be found in dust and dirt. Leave shoes at the door and regularly wet-wipe floors and dusty surfaces to keep lead out of the house.
  3. Wash hands before you eat. Leaded dust can be transferred from children's hands to their mouths. Wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently—especially before eating—for at least 20.
  4. Check your child's toys. Children often put their toys in their mouths. Look at your child's toys to see if they are dusty or have any chipped or damaged areas. Also visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission at to learn about toy recalls, including recalls related to lead prevention.

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