Cockroach allergens in homes associated with prevalence of childhood asthma

Researchers at the University of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health have undertaken a study to try and find out why, in New York City (NYC), there can be such a vast difference in the prevalence of childhood asthma between very closely located neighbourhoods. The prevalence of asthma in children entering school varies, by neighbourhood, by between 3 and 19%, and children who grow up within walking distance of each other can have a 2-3-fold difference in the risk for having asthma.

In the study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, scientists compared the household presence of cockroach, mouse, cat, dust mite and other allergens in the neighbourhoods with a high prevalence of asthma (HAPNs), to that in neighbourhoods with a low prevalence of asthma (LAPNs).

The researchers recruited approximately 220 children aged 7 and 8 through the same middle-income health insurance plan, where 128 had asthma on the basis or reported symptoms or medication use. Allergens were measured in the bed dust.

The results showed that cockroach, mouse and cat allergen levels were higher in HAPN than in LAPN neighbourhoods as was cockroach sensitisation among children. This suggests that cockroach allergen exposure could contribute to the higher asthma prevalence. There was no significant difference by neighbourhood in sensitisation to cat and mouse antigens.

Source: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

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First Published in April 2011




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