Reducing allergens in the home helps inner-city children with asthma

DALLAS Sept. 9, 2004 A study designed to reduce the levels of indoor allergens conducted in the homes of inner-city children with asthma resulted in fewer asthma exacerbations and unscheduled visits for asthma during a two-year period, according to a UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas researcher who participated in the multicenter study.

The National Institutes of Health study, reported in today's The New England Journal of Medicine, showed that an environmental intervention designed to reduce allergen levels in the home indeed led to a marked reduction of irritants. As a result, children living in these homes had fewer problems with their asthma

"Indoor allergens play an important role in the asthma severity in these children," said Dr. Rebecca Gruchalla, chief of allergy at UT Southwestern and a study author. "We can't just focus on medications. We must also focus on allergen triggers in the home and work with caretakers to decrease or even eliminate these allergens."

Researchers followed more than 900 children ages 5 to 11 with asthma who live in inner-city areas in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle/Tacoma, Wash., and Tucson, Ariz. Research teams went to individual households and initiated measures to decrease levels of dust mite, cockroach, dog, cat, rat, mouse and mold allergens. An additional focus was on tobacco smoke. Caretakers were educated about how to perform the various intervention strategies themselves.

Asthma, a chronic lung disease, affects about 20 million Americans. Inner-city children suffer disproportionately from the disease, primarily because of exposure to high levels of multiple indoor allergens and tobacco smoke.

"These study results are exciting because they show that changes made in the home environment can produce a reduction in symptoms comparable to that achieved with asthma inhalers," said Dr. Kenneth Olden, director of the National Institute of En

Contact: Staishy Bostick Siem
UT Southwestern Medical Center

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