Cockroaches Triggers Asthma in Children


asthmaCockroaches have been identified as a trigger of various levels of asthma among children in New York City.

In some environments, 19 percent or nearly 1 in 5 children suffer from asthma. As for in other conditions, asthma is only about 3 percent. Traffic, industrial incinerators, and air pollution sources in open spaces have all been blamed in the past.

However, researchers at Columbia University have found that children living in environments with high asthma rates are twice as likely to carry antibodies to the cockroach proteins in their blood – a sign that the children had been exposed to the insect and possibly are allergic to cockroaches.

Besides that, the houses in the neighborhood with high asthma rates contain more allergens produced by cockroaches in household dust.

This study provides “further evidence that exposure to cockroaches is a part of this story,” said study author Matthew Perzanowski.

“Cockroach allergens actually contribute to the differences in prevalence of asthma, even in urban environments like New York City.”

For the study published in the ‘Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology’, Perzanowski and his team visited 239 homes of seven and eight year old children. Half of them live in areas with high asthma rates.

Previous studies have linked poverty with increased asthma in children. However, to eliminate the influence of income or results, the authors included only families with the same middle-income health insurance plans. The aim is to ensure they have the same income and access to health care. Apparently, more than half of the children already have asthma.

During the visit, researchers collected dust from the children’s bed, then took blood samples to look for antibodies against various allergens associated with asthma, including dogs, cats, rats, mites, and cockroach proteins.

Nearly 1 in 4 children in an environment with high asthma rates seem allergic to cockroaches, compared with 1 in 10 children who live in areas that asthma is less common.

Cockroaches leave proteins which are inhaled by humans and can become allergic to it. Then in turn will increase the chance they will develop asthma, Perzanowski said.

Houses in communities that suffer high asthma also had higher concentrations of cockroach allergens, and allergens associated with rats and cats.

In addition, children who are allergic to cockroaches and rats are more likely to have asthma, wrote Joanne Sordillo at the Channing Laboratory of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, who reviewed the findings for Reuters Health.