Cockroach Allergens Aggravate Asthma
A recent study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases finds that cockroaches carry allergens that worsen asthma symptoms in inner-city children.
Akinso: It can happen in even the cleanest homes: it's late-night, and you're hungry. So, you turn on the lights, walk into the kitchen, and there they are: some of the nastiest, dirtiest creatures on the planet — cockroaches! Now, it turns out there's a new reason to hate the disgusting little disease-carriers. Not only are roaches filthy and totally unwelcome pests, but a recent study by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, indicates that they carry allergens which worsen asthma symptoms in inner-city children. Doctor Patrick Mastin — Chief of the Cellular, Organ And Systems Pathobiology Branch at NIEHS — identified the filthy insects as a reason so many inner-city kids were affected by asthma.
Mastin: What they found was that, for the case of cockroach allergens, there was a correlation — meaning that kids who are sensitive to cockroach allergen who had a high exposure to the allergen had the highest levels of symptoms. That wasn't found for any of the other allergens they tested. So, that's the significance of it.
Akinso: Cockroach allergens come from sources such as their saliva, and dead roaches. Doctor Mastin is optimistic about the impact that this study might have on the treatment of asthma.
Mastin: The hope is that the information that we're getting will, one day, be useful for physicians to give to their patients — and their patients' caregivers — about how to keep houses optimum for reducing asthma symptoms — and maybe even provide some information for health-care workers.
Akinso: Doctor Mastin says people can reduce their exposure to cockroach allergen by eating only in the kitchen and dining room, putting non-refrigerated items in plastic containers, and taking out the trash on a daily basis. This is Wally Akinso, at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.