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Mouse Allergen Ups Asthma Risk in Inner-City Homes

High levels of allergen in 84 percent of kids' bedrooms, study finds

THURSDAY, Feb. 10, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Airborne levels of mouse allergen in many inner-city homes may be high enough to trigger asthma attacks in children.

That's the conclusion of a Johns Hopkins Children's Center study in the February issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The researchers analyzed air and dust samples from the bedrooms of 100 inner-city children with asthma and found that 84 percent of the bedrooms had detectable levels of mouse allergen. The study also found that 25 percent of the homes sampled had levels of airborne mouse allergen known to aggravate asthma symptoms in animal research lab workers who have asthma.

The researchers recommended routine mouse allergy testing for inner-city children with asthma.

"Children in inner-city homes are continuously exposed to the allergy-causing substance found in mouse urine that is circulating in the air," study lead author and pediatric allergist Dr. Elizabeth Matsui said in a prepared statement.

"This exposure increases their risk for developing allergic sensitivity to mice, just as it does for laboratory workers who constantly work with rodents," Matsui said.

Once they're sensitized, children exposed to high levels of airborne mouse allergen may be at greater risk for asthma symptoms, which could lead to full-blown asthma attacks.

"One of the best ways parents can manage their child's asthma is to control the home environment and remove any asthma triggers, including mouse allergen. They can do this by sealing cracks and holes in doors and walls, thoroughly disposing of all food remains, and having pest exterminators treat their home," Matsui said.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about childhood asthma.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Children's Center, new release, Feb. 10, 2005
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