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.
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.
"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 children's bedrooms.
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 group.