Asthma: Helping City Kids With Asthma (cont.)
In addition, families were given specific allergen-reducing measures, such as allergen-impermeable covers for children's bedding and air purifiers with HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters, to be placed in key locations within their homes, including the children's bedrooms. Cockroach extermination visits were provided for children who were allergic to cockroach allergens. During the first year of the study, the investigators conducted educational home visits with the families in the intervention group. Throughout the yearlong study and the one-year follow-up, researchers closely monitored all participants' asthma symptoms and home allergen levels.
Children who participated in the intervention had significantly fewer asthma symptoms compared with those in the control group: an average of 21 fewer days of symptoms in the first year and an average of 16 fewer days during the second, or follow-up, year. In addition, the benefits of the intervention occurred rapidly: Investigators noted significant reductions in symptoms just 2 months after the study began.
The levels of cockroach and dust mite allergens in the children's bedrooms in the intervention group were substantially lower than in the control group. Furthermore, the researchers noted a direct correlation between allergen levels and asthma symptoms for the children in the intervention group: The greater the drop in cockroach or house dust mite allergen levels, the greater the reduction in asthma symptoms, suggesting that the allergy-reducing measures - not the educational visits - made the difference.
Most previous environmental intervention studies that have focused on controlling a single allergen or tobacco smoke exclusively, have met with limited success.
"Children with asthma are usually sensitive to more than one allergen," says Daniel Rotrosen, M.D., director of NIAID's Division of Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation. "By taking a multifaceted, home-based approach, this new study demonstrates the promising results families can achieve when they incorporate the recommended practices of allergen reduction into their everyday lives."
The Inner City Asthma Study, a cooperative, multicenter
study comprising seven centers across the country, is an
outgrowth of the National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma
Study, which ended in 1996. The principal investigator of
the study is Wayne J. Morgan, M.D., University of Arizona
College of Medicine, Tucson.
Last Editorial Review: 9/9/2004