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Chronic Disease

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Sensitization to indoor allergens is not linked to increased asthma problems among inner-city adults

Sensitivity and exposure to indoor allergens (especially cockroaches) is linked to more asthma problems among inner-city children. However, it is not linked to increased asthma problems among inner-city adults, concludes a new study. Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers, led by Juan P. Wisnivesky, M.D., M.P.H., examined 245 predominantly low-income minority adults with persistent asthma, who received care at an inner-city clinic. They examined adults' sensitization to indoor allergens (specific IgE antibodies) at study enrollment and health care resource use at enrollment, and 1 and 3 months later.

Overall, 62 percent of patients were sensitized to at least one of the indoor allergens assessed in the study. The prevalence of sensitization to cockroach, dust mite, cat, mold, and mouse was 60 percent, 43 percent, 41 percent, 21 percent, and 14 percent, respectively. Patients sensitized to each allergen did not have worse asthma control or higher resource use (oral steroid use, emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and history of intubation) than nonsensitized individuals.

These findings persisted, even after controlling for patient-reported exposure to indoor allergens and other potentially confounding factors. They suggest that allergic sensitization may be a less important determinant of asthma morbidity among inner-city adults than it is among urban children.

The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13312 and HS09973).

See "Lack of association between indoor allergen sensitization and asthma morbidity in inner-city adults," by Dr. Wisnivesky, Hugh Sampson, M.D., Stephen Berns, M.D., and others, in the July 2007 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 120, pp. 113-120.

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