Exposure to cockroaches is a key asthma
trigger in children. Asthma sufferers can be highly sensitive to cockroach saliva, skin
Most experts recommend using a combination of control
measures using insecticide, bait and other means to keep the insects in
check. Since these can be too costly for low-income families,
investigators wanted to see if a streamlined approach could work.
‘Simply using cockroach bait eliminated enough of cockroaches so that children with moderate to severe asthma had almost 50 fewer days with symptoms in a year.’
It may be easier and cheaper for parents to manage exposure to cockroaches than previously
thought, suggested a new Tulane University study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Researchers found that simply using cockroach bait eliminated enough
of the pests so that children with moderate to severe asthma had almost
50 fewer days with symptoms in a year.
"To our knowledge, this is the first study to assess whether
insecticidal bait alone works to reduce cockroach exposure in homes with
any subsequent benefit in asthma outcomes," said lead study author
Felicia Rabito, associate professor of epidemiology at Tulane University
School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. "Once cockroaches were
eliminated, children with substantial asthma symptoms before the
intervention had fewer symptom days, improved lung function and less
health care use."
For a year, the study followed 102 mostly low-income families with
children diagnosed with asthma. A little more than half of the homes
were treated with cockroach bait. Technicians checked for roaches every
two to three months, placing traps in the kitchen, living room and
Three months into the study there was a noticeable difference in the
number of bugs in houses with cockroach bait and homes compared to
homes with no intervention. At 12 months, no homes treated with bait had
a cockroach infestation compared to 22% of control homes that
were not treated with insect bait.
Children in homes being treated had 47 fewer days with asthma
symptoms over the course of a year; the number of unscheduled visits to a
clinic or emergency room was also 17% lower in the intervention