Roaches to Blame for Asthma in Inner Cities
The mystery behind asthma is beginning to unravel. A study published this month finds that roaches and high-rise apartment buildings have a significant impact on childhood asthma.
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By Ansley Roche
March 9, 2005
A study published in this month’s issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reports that cockroaches may be a major culprit in the high rates of asthma in inner cities. A team of researches at Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas conducted a study that analyzed skin test reactivity to different allergens in 937 children living in inner cities across the country.
Evaluating different allergen sensitivities as well as geographic variations in indoor allergen levels, the researchers identified that cockroach sensitivity was highest in the Northeast, New York and the Bronx specifically, and that dust mite sensitivity was highest in the south and Northwest, Dallas and Seattle respectively. They also found that housing type influenced indoor allergen levels – cockroach allergen levels were higher in high-rise apartment buildings and dust mite allergen levels were higher in detached houses.
Of the different allergens tested - cockroaches, dust mites and mold, cockroaches showed to have a higher impact on childhood asthma than dust mites, and dust mites had a higher impact than mold.
This study, Inner City Asthma Study: Relationships among sensitivity, allergen exposure, and asthma morbidity, also found that those children who were sensitive and exposed to cockroach allergens had significantly more asthma symptom days, more caretaker interrupted sleep and more absences at school than those children who were more sensitive to dust mites.
Identifying direct causes of asthma has been one of the major difficulties in addressing the high rates of asthma in inner cities. It is widely known that dust mites, mold, tobacco smoke, furry pets, cockroaches and rodent infestation trigger asthma attacks, but the Inner City Asthma Study provides evidence for a direct link between the type of allergen, type of living environment (building type) and an increased sensitivity to allergens in children.
Interestingly, this study supports previously reported statistical findings of higher rates of asthma in the inner cities of New York compared to other cities in the United States. Since high-rise apartment buildings and cockroaches are proving to be a toxic combination, someone should really consider calling the Orkin® Man.
Inner City Asthma Study: Relationships among sensitivity, allergen exposure, and asthma morbidity