President Barack Obama caught the attention of families with asthma last week when he blamed global warming for his daughter Malia’s asthma.
The “global warming = asthma” comments came just one day after the White House launched a campaign to show how global warming will affect public health — specifically, how global temperature rises will worsen asthma symptoms.
While it’s true that the rising temperatures may affect people with asthma, Malia was born in 1998 when the temperature spiked — and it hasn’t warmed up much since then.
In his interview with ABC, Obama described how they were able to treat Malia’s asthma — “knock it out early” — because they had good health insurance. Malia, now 16, only experienced that one trip to the emergency room, leads an active life, and does not even need to carry an inhaler these days.
But Obama pointed out that many children with asthma find themselves in the ER several times a year — which costs tax-payers — so it will benefit society if these visits can be prevented.
Obama also spoke about the terrible air quality he experienced while running in Los Angeles in 1979 and feeling his lungs burn from the pollution. While some experts argue that air quality can aggravate asthma symptoms, a study by John’s Hopkins Children’s Center did not find a link between air pollution and childhood asthma. Either way, the Environmental Protection Agency says that air quality in the U.S. has “substantially improved” over the last 30 years.
That wasn’t the first time the first family has discussed asthma, either. Several years back, Michelle Obama suggested that Malia’s asthma was triggered by being in a crowded circus with a lot of dust and particles in the air. Since Malia has a peanut allergy, it makes sense that the peanut particles at a circus would lead to her having difficult breathing.
Michelle has also stated that they keep the house “dust- and dander-free,” and don’t bring in anything that could trigger Malia’s asthma. The family’s dogs, Bo and Sunny, are Portuguese Water Dogs, which shed less and produce fewer allergens — however, there is no such thing as a completely hypo-allergenic dog or cat.
While many suspect Obama talked about Malia’s asthma in order to bridge a personal connection to global warming, it’s left many asthma parents feeling suspicious about his making the connection.
Obama plans to get the public engaged by enlisting tech companies like Google and Microsoft to create educational apps, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows the link between rising temperatures and our health.