Waiting to Inhale 

It's a killer we seldom hear about, discriminating by race and locale and afflicting more people every year. So why don't we even know what causes asthma?

Page 6 of 6

What about trees? Letrice offers. More trees line this street, and maybe they irritate Jordon's lungs. Or chalk? Jordon loves to draw with sidewalk chalk. She just finished washing the driveway down.

Sholinbeck tells Letrice to try an experiment: Limit the chalk and dirt. "Try it for two weeks and see what happens."

Like the researchers and doctors studying the epidemic, public-health workers like her can only make educated guesses. How can she prevent asthma in Jordon and other children if its causes aren't even understood?

As she continues with a list of suggestions, Jordon trundles in and out of the room, his strained breathing audible. On one of these occasions, the mother grabs her boy and holds on to him for a minute. Then, as she often does, she puts an ear to his back, and carefully listens.


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