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The cockroach and asthma connection

la cucaracha

It has long been a mystery why the dramatic difference in asthma statistics in some neighborhoods in New York City. Now, researchers have identified the cockroach as a likely reason.

In some New York City neighborhoods, 19% of the kids have asthma. Other neighborhoods report less than 3%. Why the difference is a question that has baffled researchers for years. Heavy traffic, pollution, incinerators have long been suspected by now the good people from Columbia University have found that the kids living in the areas with high rates of asthma carry an unusually high antibodies against a cockroach protein in their blood. This tells them that these kids have high exposure to cockroaches and have developed an allergy to them.

Researchers also found that in homes with childhood asthma present there were also higher quantities of the allergen produced by cockroaches in household dust. “Cockroach allergen really could be contributing to disparities in asthma prevalence, even in an urban environment like New York City,” said study author Dr. Matthew Perzanowski. While no one wants to see the use of harmful insecticides, controlling the cockroach population could favorably impact rates of asthma.

Cockroaches leave behind proteins that people inhale and can become allergic to. This contributes to the development of asthma.

Source: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Reuters


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