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Kids and asthma

Reducing allergen levels in home can lead to a marked reduction of asthma risk to children.
PTI | By Asian News International, Washington
PUBLISHED ON SEP 11, 2004 04:44 PM IST

A study carried out by the National Institute of Health and published in 'The New England Journal of Medicine' showed that an environmental intervention designed to reduce allergen levels in the home led to a marked reduction of irritants, and children living in these homes had fewer problems with their asthma.

"Indoor allergens play an important role in the asthma severity in these children. 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," said Dr. Rebecca Gruchalla, chief of allergy at UT Southwestern and a study author.

Researchers followed more than 900 children in the age-group of 5-11 and went to individual households and initiated measures to decrease levels of dust mite, cockroach, dog, cat, rat, mouse and mould allergens, with additional focus on tobacco smoke. Caretakers were educated about how to perform the various intervention strategies themselves.

Interventions also included encasing the child's mattress, springs and pillow in allergen-impermeable covers, repairing water leaks and removing carpet from the bedroom. Families were also given HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters.

Children who participated in the intervention had 21 fewer days of symptoms than the control group in the first year and an average of 16 fewer days during the second, follow-up year.

"We wanted this to have a long-term impact, not just for the duration of the study. In many cases, we taught them simple cleaning measures to decrease the roach population - things like not leaving food uncovered and caulking obvious cracks in the wall," explained Gruchalla.

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