Cockroach exposure independent of sensitization status and association with hospitalizations for asthma in inner-city children

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2011 Feb;106(2):103-9. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2010.10.013. Epub 2011 Jan 7.


Background: Children with asthma living in urban environments experience disproportionately high asthma hospitalization rates. Excessive exposure to perennial allergens, including cockroach and house dust mite (HDM), have been implicated, but data are limited.

Objective: To examine the relation between cockroach and HDM exposure and measures of asthma morbidity and health care utilization.

Methods: Participants included 86 atopic asthmatic children living in New Orleans, Louisiana. Sensitization status was determined by means of serum specific IgE testing, and vacuum dust samples were collected for allergen analysis. Logistic regression analysis was used to assess the odds of persistent wheezing, emergency department visits, and asthma hospitalization in those with high vs low levels of allergen exposure.

Results: Approximately 44% and 40% of children were exposed to Bla g 1 levels greater than 2 U/g and HDM levels greater than 2 μg/g, respectively, and 24% reported at least 1 hospitalization in the previous 4 months. The median Bla g 1 level was significantly higher in the homes of children hospitalized compared with those with no hospital admissions (7.2 vs 0.8 U/g). In multivariable models, the odds of hospitalization were significantly higher in children exposed to Bla g 1 levels greater than 2 U/g (adjusted odds ratio, 4.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.24-14.17), independent of sensitization status. Exposure to HDMs was not associated with any measure of morbidity.

Conclusions: Exposure to cockroach allergen was strongly associated with increased hospitalization in children with asthma. This effect cannot be explained entirely by IgE-mediated inflammation. Controlled interventional trials are needed to determine whether isolated cockroach abatement improves asthma control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cockroaches / immunology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Pyroglyphidae / immunology


  • Immunoglobulin E