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Cockroaches & Kids’ Asthma

June 11, 2011 by staff 

C**kroaches & Kids' AsthmaC**kroaches & Kids’ Asthma, Researchers have found cckroaches as a possible explanation of significant variations between the districts of asthma rates among children in New York City. In some neighborhoods of New York, 19 percent – nearly 1 in 5 – Children with asthma, in others the rate is as low as 3 percent. Heavy traffic, industrial incinerators, and other sources of outdoor air pollution have been blamed in the past as potential contributors to differences in asthma in the city. Now, researchers at Columbia University have found that children living in neighborhoods with high rates of asthma were twice as likely to have antibodies to a protein of cckroaches in his blood, a sign that the children had been exposed to insects and probably allergic to them.

In addition, homes in neighborhoods with high rates of asthma are more of the allergens produced by cckroaches in house dust.

This study offers “further evidence that exposure to cckroaches is part of history,” said study author Dr. Matthew Perzanowski told Reuters Health. “C**kroach allergen may actually be contributing to disparities in the prevalence of asthma, even in an urban environment like New York.”

These findings also suggest that cckroach control can help eliminate some of these disparities, Perzanowski said. But parents do not want tons of spray harmful chemicals, which could “have other effects,” he added.

Instead, people can take simple steps such as sealing c3acks and removing food sources and water. (New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene offers tips to control cckroaches here)

To investigate why some city neighborhoods are more cases of asthma than others, Perzanowski and his team visited the homes of 239, seven and eight years of age, half of whom lived in areas with high rates of asthma.

Previous research has linked poverty with an increased risk of asthma in childhood. To eliminate the influence of income on the results, the authors only include families with the same income insurance plan health, to make sure I had the same income and access to health care.

More than half the children already had asthma.

During home visits, the researchers collected dust from the beds of children, then took blood samples for antibodies against different allergens associated with asthma – including cat, dog, mouse, dust mites, cckroaches and proteins.

Nearly 1 in 4 children living in neighborhoods with high asthma rates seem to be allergic to cckroaches, compared with 1 in 10 children living in areas where asthma is less common.

Homes in communities with high asthma also had higher concentrations of cckroach allergen and allergen related to mice and cats, the researchers report in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

In addition, children who were allergic to cckroaches and mice were more likely to have asthma, said Dr. Joan Sordillos Channing Laboratory, both affiliated with the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who reviewed the results of Reuters Health.

“Mouse or exposure to cckroach allergens may increase the risk of allergic sensitization (allergies), which in turn related to the development of asthma in children,” he said in an email.

Although protein sensitization to cckroaches was more prevalent in children in the districts of asthma, in general, children who were allergic to dust and cats were also more likely to have asthma.

Perzanowski explained that the proteins that cckroaches leave people inhaled and can become allergic, which in turn increases the chance of developing asthma.

But when it comes to cat ownership, the picture becomes a little darker, he said. Some previous research has found that children in homes with cats were more likely to be allergic, but in this study, which has a cat does not predispose children to asthma.

“It’s complicated,” said the researcher. “Prevention of cats does not seem to reduce the risk of developing asthma.”

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