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Cockroach allergens in homes associated with prevalence of childhood asthma in some neighborhoods
Date:5/17/2011

May 17, 2011 -- In New York City, the prevalence of asthma among children entering school varies by neighborhood anywhere from 3% to 19%, and children growing up within walking distance of each other can have 2-3 fold differences in risk for having asthma. In the first comprehensive effort to understand what drives these localized differences, researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health compared the household presence of cockroach, mouse, cat, dust mite and other allergens in neighborhoods with a high prevalence of asthma to that in low-prevalence neighborhoods. They found that cockroach, mouse and cat allergens were significantly higher in homes located in neighborhoods where asthma is more common and that children in these higher-exposure homes were more likely to be sensitized to cockroach antigens.

The full study is now online in the Journal of Clinical Immunology.

The researchers studied 239 children 7 to 8 years old who were recruited through the middle-income HIP Health Plan of New York, as part of the ongoing New York City Neighborhood Asthma and Allergy Study. A total of 120 children lived in high asthma prevalence neighborhoods and 119 were from low-prevalence areas. Based on a parent reported survey of symptoms, 128 were classified as having asthma and 111 were assigned to a control group.

Allergen exposure was measured by collecting and analyzing bed dust samples from the upper half of the children's beds. Sensitization was measured by screening blood samples for antibodies to various household allergens. Earlier studies of inner-city children have found that exposure and sensitization to cockroach and mouse allergens is associated with having asthma.

Researchers found that cockroach, mouse and cat allergens were more prevalent in the bed dust taken from homes in high asthma neighborhoods than low asthma neighborhoods, and that sensitivity to cockroach allergen was twice as commo
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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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