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Inner-City Asthma Risk Varies by Location

Type of home also influences child's risk, study found

WEDNESDAY, March 9, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Experts have long known that inner-city children are at especially high risk for exposure to asthma triggers such as dust mites, cockroaches and mold.

But a new study finds that risk also depends heavily on which city the child lives in, as well as the type of family home.

Reporting in the March issue of the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, researchers studied skin test reactivity and asthma symptoms in 937 children living in inner cities in different locations across the United States.

They found dramatic differences in indoor allergen levels:

  • The Northeast had the highest levels of cockroach exposure and sensitivity, with the highest levels evident in New York City.
  • The South and Northwest, particularly Dallas and Seattle, had the highest levels of dust mite allergen.
  • High-rise apartments tended to have much higher levels of cockroach allergen levels, while dust mite allergen levels were higher in detached homes.

The study also concluded that cockroach allergen has a much greater impact on childhood asthma than dust mite allergen. Children exposed to cockroach allergen had more asthma symptoms, missed more school, and made more unscheduled asthma-related visits to the doctor, compared to kids whose symptoms were triggered by exposure to dust mites.

Allergic children exposed to dog and cat allergen had more unscheduled asthma-related trips to the doctor than children who weren't allergic or weren't exposed to cat or dog allergen, the researchers added.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about childhood asthma.

SOURCE: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, news release, March 8, 2005
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