The rates of asthma in children in urban areas are growing. A study by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health have determined that early exposure to certain components of air pollution increase the risk of developing a cockroach allergy by age 7.
The study was published in the February edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Researchers paid particular attention to low income areas and determined that a cockroach allergy is one of the greatest risk factors in these areas. The allergy, combined with high levels of pollution, and genetic defect called GSTM may make children especially vulnerable to the asthma-related cockroach allergy.
To determine the presence of the allergen in homes, researchers measured collecting dust from the kitchen and bed and sampled the air to measure exposure to polyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAS).
Of the 279 homes the researchers tested, 80% were positive for high levels of the cockroach allergen. 82 of the 264 children tested by age 7 had developed a cockroach allergy. Careful study also revealed that the prenatal environment was critical to protecting children from environmental effects.
Among other things, research determined that minimizing exposure to PAH during pregnancy and to cockroach allergen during early childhood might prevent cockroach allergies and asthma in urban children.
This research is important because asthma in children in urban environments is rising steadily and needs to be curbed.