Mouse Allergens in Schools Increase Asthma Symptoms and Impair Lung Function

Allergies & Asthma

A recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Association Pediatrics observed a clinically significant association between exposure to mouse allergens and an increase in asthma symptoms as well as diminished lung function.

Asthma is a pervasive health concern in the United States, however, asthma tends to disproportionately affect low-income groups and minorities residing within inner-city neighborhoods. Prior research studies have deemed that allergens found in inner-city homes are vital risk factors for developing asthma, these studies have also shown that interventions aimed at mitigating one’s exposure to these home-found allergens effectively decreased asthma severity. Furthermore, past asthma research has outlined the prevalence of asthma-related allergens within schools. Importantly, though, no research studies have examined the direct influence of exposures to allergens found within inner-city schools have on asthma symptoms and lung function.

A total of 351 students from 38 elementary inner-city schools were included in this study’s analysis, and data collection took place repeatedly over 5 years. A variety of allergens were searched for including those for cat, dog, mouse, rat, and cockroach in the schools. Researchers collected dust samples from inner-city classrooms twice a year, and follow-up phone interviews were administered at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months. Statistical analyses revealed a clinically significant connection between mouse allergens (among all other allergens) and the number of days that asthma symptoms were experienced. Participants with the most exposure to mouse allergens experienced 3.6 days of asthma symptoms during a 2-week period, while participants with the least exposure to mouse allergens experienced 2.9 days of asthma-related symptoms over the same period. This association was found regardless of the degree to which a child was sensitive to an allergen commonly located in schools (mouse, cat, and dog in this instance).

Public health interventions aimed at reducing children’s exposure to environmental allergens usually found within inner-city schools could be instrumental for all children diagnosed with asthma.

Written By: Melissa Booker

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