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1.  Environmental risk factors of childhood asthma in urban centers. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1995;103(Suppl 6):59-62.
Asthma morbidity and mortality are disproportionately high in urban centers, and minority children are especially vulnerable. Factors that contribute to this dilemma include inadequate preventive medical care for asthma management, inadequate asthma knowledge and management skills among children and their families, psychosocial factors, and environmental exposure to allergens or irritants. Living in substandard housing often constitutes excess exposure to indoor allergens and pollutants. Allergens associated with dust mites (DM) and cockroaches (CR) are probably important in both onset and worsening of asthma symptoms for children who are chronically exposed to these agents. Young children spend a great deal of time on or near the floor where these allergens are concentrated in dust. Of children (2 to 10 years of age) living in metropolitan Washington, DC, 60% were found to be sensitive to CR and 72% were allergic to DM. Exposure to tobacco smoke contributes to onset of asthma earlier in life and is a risk factor for asthma morbidity. Since disparity of asthma mortality and morbidity among minority children in urban centers is closely linked to socioeconomic status and poverty, measures to reduce exposure to environmental allergens and irritants and to eliminate barriers to access to health care are likely to have a major positive impact. Interventions for children in urban centers must focus on prevention of asthma symptoms and promotion of wellness.
PMCID: PMC1518936  PMID: 8549491
2.  Few Associations Found between Mold and Other Allergen Concentrations in the Home versus Skin Sensitivity from Children with Asthma after Hurricane Katrina in the Head-Off Environmental Asthma in Louisiana Study 
Mold and other allergen exposures exacerbate asthma symptoms in sensitized individuals. We evaluated allergen concentrations, skin test sensitivities, and asthma morbidity for 182 children, aged 4–12 years, with moderate to severe asthma, enrolled 18 months after Katrina, from the city of New Orleans and the surrounding parishes that were impacted by the storm, into the Head-off Environmental Asthma in Louisiana (HEAL) observational study. Dust (indoor) and air (indoor and outdoor) samples were collected at baseline of 6 and 12 months. Dust samples were evaluated for dust mite, cockroach, mouse, and Alternaria by immunoassay. Air samples were evaluated for airborne mold spore concentrations. Overall, 89% of the children tested positive to ≥1 indoor allergen, with allergen-specific sensitivities ranging from 18% to 67%. Allergen concentration was associated with skin sensitivity for 1 of 10 environmental triggers analyzed (cat). Asthma symptom days did not differ with skin test sensitivity, and surprisingly, increased symptoms were observed in children whose baseline indoor airborne mold concentrations were below median levels. This association was not observed in follow-up assessments. The lack of relationship among allergen levels (including mold), sensitivities, and asthma symptoms points to the complexity of attempting to assess these associations during rapidly changing social and environmental conditions.
PMCID: PMC3523147  PMID: 23304171
3.  Household mold and dust allergens: Exposure, sensitization and childhood asthma morbidity 
Environmental research  2012;118:86-93.
Few studies address concurrent exposures to common household allergens, specific allergen sensitization and childhood asthma morbidity.
To identify levels of allergen exposures that trigger asthma exacerbations in sensitized individuals.
We sampled homes for common indoor allergens (fungi, dust mites (Der p 1, Der f 1), cat (Fel d 1), dog (Can f 1) and cockroach (Bla g 1)) for levels associated with respiratory responses among school-aged children with asthma (N=1233) in a month-long study. Blood samples for allergy testing and samples of airborne fungi and settled dust were collected at enrollment. Symptoms and medication use were recorded on calendars. Combined effects of specific allergen sensitization and level of exposure on wheeze, persistent cough, rescue medication use and a 5-level asthma severity score were examined using ordered logistic regression.
Children sensitized and exposed to any Penicillium experienced increased risk of wheeze (odds ratio [OR] 2.12 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.12, 4.04), persistent cough (OR 2.01 95% CI 1.05, 3.85) and higher asthma severity score (OR 1.99 95% CI 1.06, 3.72) compared to those not sensitized or sensitized but unexposed. Children sensitized and exposed to pet allergen were at significantly increased risk of wheeze (by 39% and 53% for Fel d 1 > 0.12 µg/g and Can f 1>1.2 µg/g, respectively). Increased rescue medication use was significantly associated with sensitization and exposure to Der p 1 > 0.10 µg/g (by 47%) and Fel d 1>0.12 µg/g (by 32%).
Asthmatic children sensitized and exposed to low levels of common household allergens Penicillium, Der p 1, Fel d 1 and Can f 1 are at significant risk for increased morbidity.
PMCID: PMC3604733  PMID: 22863552
Asthma; Mold; Dust mites; Pet allergens; Wheezing
4.  Childhood asthma and indoor allergens in Native Americans in New York 
Environmental Health  2006;5:22.
The objective of this study was to assess the correlation between childhood asthma and potential risk factors, especially exposure to indoor allergens, in a Native American population.
A case-control study of St. Regis Mohawk tribe children ages 2–14 years, 25 diagnosed with asthma and 25 controls was conducted. Exposure was assessed based on a personal interview and measurement of mite and cat allergens (Der p 1, Fel d 1) in indoor dust.
A non-significant increased risk of childhood asthma was associated with self-reported family history of asthma, childhood environmental tobacco smoke exposure, and air pollution. There was a significant protective effect of breastfeeding against current asthma in children less than 14 years (5.2 fold lower risk). About 80% of dust mite and 15% of cat allergen samples were above the threshold values for sensitization of 2 and 1 μg/g, respectively. The association between current asthma and exposure to dust mite and cat allergens was positive but not statistically significant.
This research identified several potential indoor and outdoor risk factors for asthma in Mohawks homes, of which avoidance may reduce or delay the development of asthma in susceptible individuals.
PMCID: PMC1552054  PMID: 16859546
5.  Socioeconomic predictors of high allergen levels in homes in the greater Boston area. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2000;108(4):301-307.
In the United States, childhood asthma morbidity and prevalence rates are the highest in less affluent urban minority communities. More than 80% of childhood asthmatics are allergic to one or more inhalant allergens. We evaluated whether socioeconomic status was associated with a differential in the levels and types of indoor home allergens. Dust samples for an ELISA allergen assay were collected from the homes of 499 families as part of a metropolitan Boston, Massachusetts, longitudinal birth cohort study of home allergens and asthma in children with a parental history of asthma or allergy. The proportion of homes with maximum home allergen levels in the highest category was 42% for dust mite allergen (> or = 10 microg/g Der p 1 or Der f 1), 13% for cockroach allergen (> or = 2 U/g Bla g 1 or Bla g 2), 26% for cat allergen (> or = 8 microg/g Fel d 1), and 20% for dog allergen (> or = 10 microg/g Can f 1). Homes in the high-poverty area (> 20% of the population below the poverty level) were more likely to have high cockroach allergen levels than homes in the low-poverty area [51 vs. 3%; OR, 33; 95% confidence interval (CI), 12-90], but less likely to have high levels of dust mite allergen (16 vs. 53%; OR, 0.2; CI, 0.1-0.4). Lower family income, less maternal education, and race/ethnicity (black or Hispanic vs. white) were also associated with a lower risk of high dust mite levels and a greater risk of high cockroach allergen levels. Within a single U.S. metropolitan area we found marked between-community differences in the types of allergens present in the home, but not necessarily in the overall burden of allergen exposure.
PMCID: PMC1638021  PMID: 10753087
6.  Indoor air pollution and childhood asthma: effective environmental interventions. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  1995;103(Suppl 6):55-58.
Exposure to indoor air pollutants such as tobacco smoke and dust mites may exacerbate childhood asthma. Environmental interventions to reduce exposures to these pollutants can help prevent exacerbations of the disease. Among the most important interventions is the elimination of environmental tobacco smoke from the environments of children with asthma. However, the effectiveness of reducing asthmatic children's exposure to environmental tobacco smoke on the severity of their symptoms has not yet been systematically evaluated. Dust mite reduction is another helpful environmental intervention. This can be achieved by enclosing the child's mattresses, blankets, and pillows in zippered polyurethane-coated casings. Primary prevention of asthma is not as well understood. It is anticipated that efforts to reduce smoking during pregnancy could reduce the incidence of asthma in children. European studies have suggested that reducing exposure to food and house dust mite antigens during lactation and for the first 12 months of life diminishes the development of allergic disorders in infants with high total IgE in the cord blood and a family history of atopy. Many children with asthma and their families are not receiving adequate counseling about environmental interventions from health care providers or other sources.
PMCID: PMC1518930  PMID: 8549490
7.  Effects of winter birth season and prenatal cockroach and mouse allergen exposure on indoor allergen–specific cord blood mononuclear cell proliferation and cytokine production 
Season of birth has been associated with the development of atopy and asthma. Relationships among a particular birth season, maternal allergen exposure during the birth season, and childhood development of allergies to allergens in higher concentration during the birth season may be important.
To investigate the effects of winter birth (January 1 to March 31) and prenatal cockroach and mouse allergens in settled dust on indoor allergen–specific cord blood mononuclear cell (CBMC) proliferation, TH2 production, and cord blood IgE concentration.
As part of an ongoing prospective study, 350 cord blood samples were collected. The CBMCs were cultured with cockroach, dust mite, and mouse protein extracts, and proliferation was measured. Interleukin 5, interferon-γ, and total IgE levels were measured. Home dust samples were analyzed for cockroach and mouse allergens.
An isolated association was observed between winter birth and a greater mean (SD) cockroach interleukin 5 ratio (winter vs nonwinter birth: 26,043 [11,403] vs 11,344 [3,701]; P = .02). Other associations between winter birth and increased CBMC proliferation, T-helper cytokines, or cord blood IgE levels were not detected. Higher mouse allergen levels were associated with decreased mouse-induced proliferation (winter vs nonwinter birth: mean [SD] stimulation index, 1.72 [0.12] vs 2.02 [0.11]; P = 04).
Winter birth and increased cockroach or mouse allergen levels during pregnancy were not consistently abssociated with greater CBMC proliferation, T-helper cytokine production, or cord blood IgE levels. Greater indoor allergen exposure during pregnancy does not seem to affect the development of cockroach or mouse immune responses in utero.
PMCID: PMC2582011  PMID: 18727476
8.  Seasonal Variation and Environmental Predictors of Exhaled Nitric Oxide in Children with Asthma 
Pediatric pulmonology  2008;43(6):576-583.
The fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), a measure of airway inflammation, shows promise as a noninvasive tool to guide asthma management, but there is a paucity of longitudinal data about seasonal variation and environmental predictors of FeNO in children. The objective of this project was to evaluate how environmental factors affect FeNO concentrations over a 12-month study period among children with doctor diagnosed asthma. We conducted a prospective cohort study of 225 tobacco-smoke exposed children age 6 to 12 years with doctor-diagnosed asthma including measures of FeNO, medication use, settled indoor allergens (dust mite, cat, dog, and cockroach), and tobacco smoke exposure. Baseline geometric mean FeNO was 12.4 ppb (range 1.9 to 60.9 ppb). In multivariable analyses, higher baseline FeNO levels, atopy, and fall season were associated with increased FeNO levels, measured 6 and 12 months after study initiation, whereas inhaled steroid use, summer season, and increasing nicotine exposure were associated with lower FeNO levels. In secondary analyses of allergen sensitization, only sensitization to dust mite and cat were associated with increased FeNO levels. Our data demonstrate that FeNO levels over a year long period reflected baseline FeNO levels, allergen sensitization, season, and inhaled steroid use in children with asthma. These results indicate that FeNO levels are responsive to common environmental triggers as well as therapy for asthma in children. Clinicians and researchers may need to consider an individual’s baseline FeNO levels to manage children with asthma.
PMCID: PMC3483596  PMID: 18429012
allergen; sensitization; tobacco smoke; inhaled corticosteroid
9.  Impact of Environmental Controls on Childhood Asthma 
Exposure to allergens early in life can lead to sensitization and the development of childhood asthma. It is thought that increased exposure with the advent of modern housing is likely contributing to the rise in prevalence of childhood asthma during the past few decades. The progression from allergen exposure to sensitization and asthma development has been noted with respect to dust mites, pets, cockroach, mouse, mold, tobacco smoke, endotoxin, and air pollution, although some have found a protective effect with pet and endotoxin exposure. Recent studies have shown that allergen remediation may be beneficial in reducing asthma morbidity and development, although there is also some evidence to the contrary. Examples of allergen remediation that have been studied include the use of dust mite–impermeable covers, high-efficiency particulate air filtration, integrated pest management, home repairs, ventilation improvement, and pet removal. Several multifaceted, randomized controlled trials have shown that reducing multiple early allergen exposures with environmental controls is associated with a decreased risk of asthma.
PMCID: PMC3166452  PMID: 21710109
Asthma; Asthma prevention; Asthma control; Children; Allergen; House dust mites; Home remediation; Mold; Endotoxin; Integrated pest management; Pollution; Cats; Dogs; Tobacco
10.  Asthma and other recurrent wheezing disorders in children (chronic) 
Clinical Evidence  2012;2012:0302.
Childhood asthma is the most common chronic paediatric illness. There is no cure for asthma but good treatment to palliate symptoms is available. Asthma is more common in children with a personal or family history of atopy, increased severity and frequency of wheezing episodes, and presence of variable airway obstruction or bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Precipitating factors for symptoms and acute episodes include infection, house dust mites, allergens from pet animals, exposure to tobacco smoke, and exercise.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of single-agent prophylaxis in children taking as-needed inhaled beta2 agonists for asthma? What are the effects of additional prophylactic treatments in childhood asthma inadequately controlled by standard-dose inhaled corticosteroids? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to June 2010 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
We found 48 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: beta2 agonists (long-acting), corticosteroids (inhaled standard or higher doses), leukotriene receptor antagonists (oral), omalizumab, and theophylline (oral).
Key Points
Childhood asthma can be difficult to distinguish from viral wheeze and can affect up to 20% of children.
Regular monotherapy with inhaled corticosteroids improves symptoms, reduces exacerbations, and improves physiological outcomes in children with asthma symptoms requiring regular short-acting beta2 agonist treatment. Their effect on final adult height is minimal and when prescribed within recommended doses have an excellent safety record. Regular monotherapy with other treatments is not superior to low-dose inhaled corticosteroids.
Leukotriene receptor antagonists may have a role as first-line prophylaxis in very young children.
There is consensus that long-acting beta2 agonists should not be used for first-line prophylaxis. CAUTION: Monotherapy with long-acting beta2 agonists does not reduce asthma exacerbations but may increase the chance of severe asthma episodes.
Theophylline was used as first-line prevention before the introduction of inhaled corticosteroids. Although there is weak evidence that theophylline is superior to placebo, theophylline should no longer be used as first-line prophylaxis in childhood asthma because of clear evidence of the efficacy and safety of inhaled corticosteroids. Theophylline has serious adverse effects (cardiac arrhythmia, convulsions) if therapeutic blood concentrations are exceeded.
When low-dose inhaled corticosteroids fail to control asthma, most older children will respond to one of the add-on options available, which include addition of long-acting beta2 agonists, addition of leukotriene receptor antagonists, addition of theophylline, or increased dose of inhaled corticosteroid. However, we don't know for certain how effective these additional treatments are because we found no/limited RCT evidence of benefit compared with adding placebo/no additional treatments. Addition of long-acting beta2 agonists may reduce symptoms and improve physiological measures compared with increased dose of corticosteroids in older children. Long-acting beta2 agonists are not currently licensed for use in children under 5 years of age.Consensus suggests that younger children are likely to benefit from addition of leukotriene receptor antagonists. Although there is weak evidence that addition of theophylline to inhaled corticosteroids does improve symptom control and reduce exacerbations, theophylline should only be added to inhaled corticosteroids in children aged over 5 years when the addition of long-acting beta2 agonists and leukotriene receptor antagonists have both been unsuccessful.
Omalizumab may be indicated in the secondary care setting for older children (aged over 5 years) with poorly controlled allergic asthma despite use of intermediate- and high-dose inhaled corticosteroids once the diagnosis is confirmed and compliance and psychological issues are addressed. However, we need more data to draw firm conclusions.
PMCID: PMC3285219  PMID: 22305975
11.  Correlation of specific IgE to shrimp with cockroach and dust mite exposure and sensitization in an inner city population 
Studies have demonstrated that IgE-binding cross-reactive epitopes between shrimp, cockroach and house dust mite tropomyosins can account for the presence of detectable IgE to shrimp in people who have cockroach and dust mite allergies.
We investigated the correlation between IgE-mediated sensitization to shrimp, cockroach, and dust mite in relation to allergen exposure in inner-city children.
Five hundred and four serum samples from the National Cooperative Inner City Asthma Study (NCICAS) were evaluated for specific IgE to shrimp and the results were compared to specific IgE to cockroach (Blattella germanica) and dust mite (Dermatophagoides farinae). Associations between IgE sensitization to these allergens and environmental exposures were determined.
There was a strong positive correlation between shrimp, cockroach, and dust mite IgE levels. High exposure to cockroach (Bla g) in the home, particularly in the bedroom and television room, was significantly correlated with higher shrimp and cockroach IgE levels. In contrast, high exposure to dust mite in the home was highly correlated with IgE to D.farinae, but not with shrimp IgE levels. There is a synergistic relationship between cockroach IgE and exposure in predicting shrimp IgE levels.
For children with evidence of IgE-mediated sensitization to cockroach and shrimp, having high exposure to cockroach in the home can contribute to higher shrimp IgE levels, which may not correlate with clinical reactivity. Further patient evaluations with clinical histories of shrimp exposure and reactions as well as oral food challenges would have to be performed to confirm these findings.
PMCID: PMC3185202  PMID: 21872304
cockroach; dust mite; shrimp; tropomyosin; cross-reactivity
12.  Asthma and other wheezing disorders in children 
Clinical Evidence  2006;2006:0302.
Asthma is more common in children with a personal or family history of atopy, increased severity and frequency of wheezing episodes, and presence of variable airway obstruction or bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Precipitating factors for symptoms and acute episodes include infection, house dust mites, allergens from pet animals, exposure to tobacco smoke, and anxiety.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of treatments for acute asthma in children? What are the effects of single-agent prophylaxis in children taking as-needed inhaled beta agonists for asthma? What are the effects of additional prophylactic treatments in childhood asthma inadequately controlled by standard-dose inhaled corticosteroids? What are the effects of treatments and of prophylactic treatments for acute wheezing in infants? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library and other important databases up to October 2005 (BMJ Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
We found 84 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: beta2 agonists (high-dose nebulised, long-acting [inhaled salmeterol], short-acting [oral salbutamol or by nebuliser, or metered-dose inhaler/spacer versus nebuliser]), corticosteroids (oral prednisolone, systemic, inhaled higher or lower doses [beclometasone]), ipratropium bromide (single or multiple dose inhaled), leukotriene receptor antagonists (oral montelukast), nedocromil (inhaled), oxygen, sodium cromoglycate (inhaled), or theophylline (oral or intravenous).
Key Points
Childhood asthma can be difficult to distinguish from viral wheeze and can affect up to 20% of children.
The consensus is that oxygen, high dose nebulised beta2 agonists and systemic corticosteroids should be used to treat an acute asthma attack. High dose beta2 agonists may be equally effective when given intermittently or continuously via a nebuliser, or from a metered dose inhaler using a spacer, in children with an acute asthma attack.Admission to hospital may be averted by adding ipratropium bromide to beta2 agonists, or by using high dose nebulised or oral corticosteroids.
Prophylactic inhaled corticosteroids improve symptoms and lung function in children with asthma. Their effect on final adult height is unclear. Inhaled nedocromil, inhaled long acting beta2 agonists, oral theophylline and oral leukotriene receptor antagonists are less effective than corticosteroids.Inhaled sodium cromoglycate does not seem to improve symptoms.
CAUTION: Monotherapy with long acting beta2 agonists reduces the frequency of asthma episodes, but may increase the chance of severe asthma episodes and death when those episodes occur. Intravenous theophylline may improve lung function in children with severe asthma, but can cause cardiac arrhythmias and convulsions.
We don't know whether adding higher doses of corticosteroids, long acting beta2 agonists, oral leukotriene receptor antagonists or oral theophylline to standard treatment improves symptoms or lung function in children with uncontrolled asthma.
In infants with acute wheeze, short acting beta2 agonists via a nebuliser or a spacer may improve symptoms, but we don't know whether high dose inhaled or oral corticosteroids or inhaled ipratropium bromide are beneficial.
Oral short acting beta2 agonists and inhaled high dose corticosteroids may prevent or improve wheeze in infants but can cause adverse effects. We don't know whether lower dose inhaled or oral corticosteroids, inhaled ipratropium bromide or inhaled short acting beta2 agonists improve wheezing episodes in infants.
PMCID: PMC2907635
13.  Cord blood versus age 5 mononuclear cell proliferation on IgE and asthma 
Fetal immune responses following exposure of mothers to allergens during pregnancy may influence the subsequent risk of childhood asthma. However, the association of allergen-induced cord blood mononuclear cell (CBMC) proliferation and cytokine production with later allergic immune responses and asthma has been controversial. Our objective was to compare indoor allergen-induced CBMC with age 5 peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) proliferation and determine which may be associated with age 5 allergic immune responses and asthma in an inner city cohort.
As part of an ongoing cohort study of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH), CBMCs and age 5 PBMCs were cultured with cockroach, mouse, and dust mite protein extracts. CBMC proliferation and cytokine (IL-5 and IFN-γ) responses, and age 5 PBMC proliferation responses, were compared to anti-cockroach, anti-mouse, and anti-dust mite IgE levels, wheeze, cough, eczema and asthma.
Correlations between CBMC and age 5 PBMC proliferation in response to cockroach, mouse, and dust mite antigens were nonsignificant. Cockroach-, mouse-, and dust mite-induced CBMC proliferation and cytokine responses were not associated with allergen-specific IgE at ages 2, 3, and 5, or with asthma and eczema at age 5. However, after adjusting for potential confounders, age 5 cockroach-induced PBMC proliferation was associated with anti-cockroach IgE, total IgE, and asthma (p < 0.05).
In contrast to allergen-induced CBMC proliferation, age 5 cockroach-induced PBMC proliferation was associated with age 5 specific and total IgE, and asthma, in an inner-city cohort where cockroach allergens are prevalent and exposure can be high.
PMCID: PMC2922078  PMID: 20684781
14.  Infant Origins of Childhood Asthma Associated with Specific Molds 
The specific cause(s) of asthma development must be identified in order to prevent this disease.
Our hypothesis was that specific mold exposures are associated with childhood asthma development.
Infants were identified from birth certificates. Dust samples were collected from 289 homes when the infants were age eight months. Samples were analyzed for concentrations of 36 molds that comprise the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) and endotoxin, house dust mite, cat, dog, and cockroach allergens. Children were evaluated at age seven for asthma based on reported symptoms and objective measures of lung function. Host, environmental exposures and home characteristics evaluated included history of parental asthma, race, gender, upper and lower respiratory symptoms, season of birth, family income, cigarette smoke exposure, air conditioning, dehumidifier, carpeting, age of home, and visible mold at age one and child positive skin prick test (SPT) to aeroallergens and molds at age seven.
Asthma was diagnosed in 24% of the children at age seven. A statistically significant increase in asthma risk at age seven was associated with high ERMI levels in the child’s home in infancy (adjusted risk ratio (aRR) for a 10-unit increase in ERMI = 1.8, 95% CI=1.5, 2.2). The summation of levels of three mold species, Aspergillus ochraceus, Aspergillus unguis, and Penicillium variabile was significantly associated with asthma (aRR = 2.2, 95% CI=1.8, 2.7).
In this birth cohort study, exposure during infancy to three mold species common to water-damaged buildings was associated with childhood asthma at age seven.
PMCID: PMC3432137  PMID: 22789397
Asthma; molds; speciation; infants; Environmental Relative Moldiness Index
15.  Eosinophils in Fungus-Associated Allergic Pulmonary Disease 
Asthma is frequently caused and/or exacerbated by sensitization to fungal allergens, which are ubiquitous in many indoor and outdoor environments. Severe asthma with fungal sensitization is characterized by airway hyperresponsiveness and bronchial constriction in response to an inhaled allergen that is worsened by environmental exposure to airborne fungi and which leads to a disease course that is often very difficult to treat with standard asthma therapies. As a result of complex interactions among inflammatory cells, structural cells, and the intercellular matrix of the allergic lung, patients with sensitization to fungal allergens may experience a greater degree of airway wall remodeling and progressive, accumulated pulmonary dysfunction as part of the disease sequela. From their development in the bone marrow to their recruitment to the lung via chemokine and cytokine networks, eosinophils form an important component of the inflammatory milieu that is associated with this syndrome. Eosinophils are recognized as complex multi-factorial leukocytes with diverse functions in the context of allergic fungal asthma. In this review, we will consider recent advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that are associated with eosinophil development and migration to the allergic lung in response to fungal inhalation, along with the eosinophil’s function in the immune response to and the immunopathology attributed to fungus-associated allergic pulmonary disease.
PMCID: PMC3561640  PMID: 23378838
allergic asthma; inflammation; eosinophils; fungus
16.  Home and allergic characteristics of children with asthma in seven U.S. urban communities and design of an environmental intervention: the Inner-City Asthma Study. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2002;110(9):939-945.
Most published environmental remediation interventions have been directed at single allergens and have employed demanding strategies; few have been performed in the homes of inner-city children disproportionately burdened by asthma. Our objective was a) to describe the allergen sensitivities, environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure, and home environmental characteristics of a national sample of inner-city children with moderate to severe asthma and b) to develop and implement a multifaceted, home-based comprehensive intervention to reduce home allergens and ETS, tailored to the specific sensitization and exposure profiles of those children. Allergen skin testing and a home evaluation were performed to determine the presence of ETS and factors known to be associated with increased indoor allergen levels. Based on published remediation techniques, a home environmental intervention, organized into modules, each addressing one of five specific allergen groups or ETS, was designed. Of 994 allergic children from seven U.S. urban communities, 937 successfully completed baseline interviews and home allergen surveys and were enrolled. More than 50% of children had positive skin tests to three or more allergen groups. Cockroaches were reported in 58% of homes, wall-to-wall carpeting in the child's bedroom in 55%, a smoker in 48%, mice or rats in 40%, and furry pets in 28%. More than 60% of enrolled families received four or more modules, and between 94% and 98% of all modules were completed. We conclude that most inner-city children with moderate to severe asthma are sensitized to multiple indoor allergens and that environmental factors known to be associated with asthma severity are commonly present in their homes. The intervention developed for the Inner-City Asthma Study employs accepted methods to address an array of allergens and ETS exposure while ensuring that the intervention is tailored to the specific sensitization profiles and home characteristics of these children.
PMCID: PMC1240995  PMID: 12204830
17.  Allergen exposure modifies the relation of sensitization to FENO levels in children at risk for allergy and asthma 
Studies on airway inflammation, measured as fraction exhaled nitric oxide (FENO), have focused on its relation to control of asthma, but the contribution of allergen exposure to elevation of FENO is unknown.
We evaluated (1) whether FENO was elevated in children with allergic sensitization or asthma; (2) whether specific allergen exposure increased FENO levels in sensitized, but not in unsensitized children; and (3) whether sedentary behavior increased FENO, independent of allergen exposures.
At age 12, in a birth cohort of children with parental history of allergy or asthma, we measured bed dust allergen (dust mite, cat, cockroach) by ELISA; specific allergic sensitization primarily by specific IgE ; and respiratory disease (current asthma, rhinitis, and wheeze) and hours of TV viewing/video game playing by questionnaire. Children performed spirometry maneuvers before and after bronchodilator responses, and had FENO measured using electrochemical detection methods (NIOX MINO).
FENO was elevated in children with current asthma (32.2 ppb), wheeze (27.0 ppb), or rhinitis (23.2ppb) as compared to individuals without these respective symptoms/diagnoses (16.4 ppb to 16.6 ppb, p< 0.005 for all comparisons). Allergic sensitization to indoor allergens (cat, dog, dust mite) predicted higher levels of FENO, and explained one third of the variability of FENO. FENO levels were highest in children both sensitized and exposed to dust mite. Greater than 10 hours of weekday TV viewing was associated with a 0.64 log increase in FENO, after controlling indoor allergen exposure, BMI and allergic sensitization.
Allergen exposures and sedentary behavior (TV viewing/ video game playing), may increase airway inflammation, measured as FENO.
PMCID: PMC3137133  PMID: 21463890
Asthma; dust mite; cat; allergens; exhaled NO; allergic sensitization; home environment
18.  Childhood Asthma and Environmental Interventions 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2007;115(6):971-975.
Contaminants encountered in many households, such as environmental tobacco smoke, house dust mite, cockroach, cat and dog dander, and mold, are risk factors in asthma. Young children are a particularly vulnerable subpopulation for environmentally mediated asthma, and the economic burden associated with this disease is substantial. Certain mechanical interventions are effective both in reducing allergen loads in the home and in improving asthmatic children’s respiratory health.
Combinations of interventions including the use of dust mite-impermeable bedding covers, improved cleaning practices, high-efficiency particulate air vacuum cleaners, mechanical ventilation, and parental education are associated with both asthma trigger reduction and improved health outcomes for asthmatic children. Compared with valuated health benefits, these combinations of interventions have proven cost effective in studies that have employed them. Education alone has not proven effective in changing parental behaviors such as smoking in the home.
Future research should focus on improving the effectiveness of education on home asthma triggers, and understanding long-term children’s health effects of the interventions that have proven effective in reducing asthma triggers.
PMCID: PMC1892116  PMID: 17589609
childhood asthma; economic impacts; indoor air quality; indoor environments; public health interventions
19.  Mite, cat, and cockroach exposure, allergen sensitisation, and asthma in children: a case-control study of three schools 
Thorax  1999;54(8):675-680.
BACKGROUND—The amount of allergen necessary to sensitise genetically "at risk" children is unclear. The relation between allergen exposure and asthma is also uncertain.
METHODS—To ensure a wide range of allergen exposures the data from case-control studies of asthma in children aged 12-14 years attending three schools in Los Alamos, New Mexico and Central Virginia were combined. Skin prick tests to indoor and outdoor allergens and bronchial hyperreactivity to histamine were assessed in children with and without symptoms of asthma. The concentration of mite, cat, and cockroach allergens in dust from the children's homes was used as a marker of exposure.
RESULTS—Three hundred and thirty two children (157 with asthmatic symptoms and 175 controls) were investigated. One hundred and eighty three were classified as atopic on the basis of allergen skin prick tests and 68 as asthmatic (symptoms plus bronchial responsiveness). The prevalence and degree of sensitisation to mite and cockroach, but not cat, was strongly associated in atopic children with increasing domestic concentrations of these allergens. Asthma was strongly associated with sensitisation to indoor allergens (p<10-6) and weakly to outdoor allergens (p = 0.026). There was an association between current asthma and the concentration of mite allergen amongst atopic children (p = 0.008) but not amongst those who were specifically mite sensitised (p = 0.16).
CONCLUSIONS—The domestic reservoir concentration of mite and cockroach, but not cat, allergen was closely related to the prevalence of sensitisation in atopic children. However, the prevalence of current asthma had a limited relationship to these allergen measurements, suggesting that other factors play a major part in determining which allergic individuals develop asthma.

PMCID: PMC1745561  PMID: 10413718
20.  Allergens in School Settings: Results of Environmental Assessments in 3 City School Systems 
The Journal of school health  2006;76(6):246-249.
Environmental allergens are major triggers for pediatric asthma. While children’s greatest exposure to indoor allergens is in the home, other public places where children spend a large amount of time, such as school and day care centers, may also be sources of significant allergen encounters. The purpose of this article is to describe schoolroom allergen levels from 3 different geographic sites obtained from dust samples collected in the, fall and in spring. Environmental dust samples were collected from elementary schools in Birmingham (AL), Detroit (MI), and Houston (TX), from 4 room locations, including the cafeteria, library, upper grades, and lower grades. Samples were assayed for dust mite (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides farinae), cat (Felis domesticus), and cockroach (Blatella germanica 2) allergen levels. Allergen levels varied by geographic location and type of schoolroom. Schoolroom settings differed by the type of flooring (hard and carpet), room characteristics and use (food service, library shelves with books, and general classroom with multiple types of materials [individual desks and different types of furniture]), and the average age of the schoolroom dwellers (younger vs older children). Dust mite, cat, and cockroach allergens were present in all schoolrooms and all sites at varying levels by season and by type of room. Schools may be important sources of direct allergen exposure and reservoirs that could potentially contribute to allergic sensitization and, disease exacerbation in. children. Further studies are needed to carefully examine the environmental allergen load in schools and its effect on children.
PMCID: PMC1599794  PMID: 16918848
21.  Skin Test Reactivity to Indoor Allergens Correlates with Asthma Severity in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 
There is increased emphasis on the role of indoor allergens in asthma.
To examine the spectrum of skin test reactivity (sensitization) to indoor allergens and its correlation with asthma severity in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Asthmatic patients referred to the allergy clinic at King Abdulaziz University Hospital (KAUH) in Jeddah were studied. Measures of clinical severity were adopted from national and international asthma guidelines. The degree of sensitization was assessed by the wheal size (positive ≥ 3 mm) from standard skin-prick tests for the following common indoor inhalant allergens: house dust mites (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus [Dp] and Dermatophagoides farinae [Df]), cat, and cockroach.
Skin test results from 113 of 151 (74.8%) asthmatic patients were positive for one or more allergens. The patients' ages ranged between 9 and 63 years (mean, 30 ± 13 years), and females constituted 65.5%. The predominant asthma severity level was moderate persistent (55.8%), followed by mild persistent (33.6%). The prevalences of sensitization to indoor allergens were as follows: Dp, 87% (3-25 mm [mean, 7 mm]); Df, 84% (3-20 mm [mean, 7 mm]); cat, 44% (3-15 mm [mean, 6 mm]); and cockroach, 33% (3-12 mm [mean, 4 mm]). Higher asthma severity levels were significantly correlated with the number of allergens with positive sensitization (R = 0.3, p < .001) and with the degree of sensitization to house dust mites (Dp [degrees of freedom {df} = 16, p < .001] and Df [df = 17, p < .01]) but not to cat (df = 10, p < .24) or cockroach (df = 8, p < .36).
Immunoglobulin E-mediated skin test reactivity to indoor allergens, particularly to house dust mites, was common in asthmatic patients from Jeddah at KAUH. Increased sensitization was associated with higher levels of asthma severity, which is compatible with the literature. This emphasizes the importance of identifying sensitization to relevant indoor allergens in the clinical evaluation of asthmatic persons.
PMCID: PMC3231646  PMID: 20529215
22.  Environmental Issues in Managing Asthma 
Respiratory care  2008;53(5):602-617.
Management of asthma requires attention to environmental exposures both indoors and outdoors. Americans spend most of their time indoors, where they have a greater ability to modify their environment. The indoor environment contains both pollutants (eg, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, secondhand smoke, and ozone) and allergens from furred pets, dust mites, cockroaches, rodents, and molds. Indoor particulate matter consists of particles generated from indoor sources such as cooking and cleaning activities, and particles that penetrate from the outdoors. Nitrogen dioxide sources include gas stoves, furnaces, and fireplaces. Indoor particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide are linked to asthma morbidity. The indoor ozone concentration is mainly influenced by the outdoor ozone concentration. The health effects of indoor ozone exposure have not been well studied. In contrast, there is substantial evidence of detrimental health effects from secondhand smoke. Guideline recommendations are not specific for optimizing indoor air quality. The 2007 National Asthma Education and Prevention Program asthma guidelines recommend eliminating indoor smoking and improving the ventilation. Though the guidelines state that there is insufficient evidence to recommend air cleaners, air cleaners and reducing activities that generate indoor pollutants may be sound practical approaches for improving the health of individuals with asthma. The guidelines are more specific about allergen avoidance; they recommend identifying allergens to which the individual is immunoglobin E sensitized and employing a multifaceted, comprehensive strategy to reduce exposure. Outdoor air pollutants that impact asthma include particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide, and guidelines recommend that individuals with asthma avoid exertion outdoors when these pollutants are elevated. Outdoor allergens include tree, grass, and weed pollens, which vary in concentration by season. Recommendations to reduce exposure include staying indoors, keeping windows and doors closed, using air conditioning and perhaps high-efficiency particulate arrestor (HEPA) air filters, and thorough daily washing to remove allergens from one’s person.
PMCID: PMC2396450  PMID: 18426614
asthma; pollutants; particulate matter; nitrogen dioxide; sulfur dioxide; secondhand smoke; ozone; allergens
23.  Development of a Novel Severe Triple Allergen Asthma Model in Mice Which Is Resistant to Dexamethasone and Partially Resistant to TLR7 and TLR9 Agonist Treatment 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91223.
Severe asthma is characterised by persistent inflammation, hyperreactivity and remodeling of the airways. No efficient treatment is available, this is particularly the case for steroid resistant phenotypes. Our aim therefore was to develop a preclinical model showing characteristics of severe human asthma including steroid insensitivity. Mice were first sensitized with ovalbumin, extracts of cockroach or house dust mite followed by a challenge period of seven weeks. Further to this, an additional group of mice was sensitized with all three allergens and then challenged with allergen alternating weekly between allergens. All three allergens applied separately to the mice induced comparably strong Th2-type airway inflammation, airway hyperreactivity and airway remodeling, which was characterised by fibrosis and increased smooth muscle thickness. In contrast, application of all three allergens together resulted in a greater Th2 response and increased airway hyperreactivity and a stronger albeit not significant remodeling phenotype compared to using HDM or CRA. In this triple allergen model dexamethasone application, during the last 4 weeks of challenge, showed no suppressive effects on any of these parameters in this model. In contrast, both TLR7 agonist resiquimod and TLR9 agonist CpG-ODN reduced allergen-specific IgE, eosinophils, and collagen I in the lungs. The TLR9 agonist also reduced IL-4 and IL-5 whilst increasing IFN-γ and strongly IL-10 levels in the lungs, effects not seen with the TLR7 agonist. However, neither TLR agonist had any effect on airway hyperreactivity and airway smooth muscle mass. In conclusion we have developed a severe asthma model, which is steroid resistant and only partially sensitive to TLR7 and TLR9 agonist treatment. This model may be particular useful to test new potential therapeutics aiming at treating steroid resistant asthma in humans and investigating the underlying mechanisms responsible for steroid insensitivity.
PMCID: PMC3949744  PMID: 24618687
Respiratory medicine  2009;104(3):345-355.
Among preschool-age children in New York City neighborhoods with high asthma hospitalization rates, we analyzed the associations of total immunoglobulin E (IgE), specific IgE to common indoor allergens, and allergy symptoms with asthma.
Parents of children in New York City Head Start programs were asked to complete a questionnaire covering demographic factors, health history (including respiratory conditions), lifestyle, and home environment. Children’s serum samples were analyzed for total IgE and specific IgE antibodies to cockroach, dust mite, mouse, and cat allergens by immunoassay. Logistic regression was used to model the association between asthma and IgE, controlling for age, gender, ethnicity/national origin, BMI, parental asthma, smokers in the household, and allergy symptoms (e.g., runny nose, rash).
Among 453 participating children (mean age 4.0 ± 0.5 years), 150 (33%) met our criteria for asthma. In our multivariable logistic regression models, children with asthma were more likely than other children to be sensitized to each allergen, to be sensitized to any of the four allergens (OR=1.6, 95% CI 1.0–2.6), or to be in the highest quartile of total IgE (OR=3.1, 95% CI 1.5–6.4). Allergy symptoms based on questionnaire responses were independently associated with asthma (OR=3.7, 95% CI 2.3–5.9).
Among preschool-aged urban children, asthma was associated with total IgE and sensitization to cat, mouse, cockroach, and dust mite allergens. However, allergy symptoms were more prevalent and more strongly associated with asthma than was any allergen-specific IgE; such symptoms may precede elevated specific IgE or represent a different pathway to asthma.
PMCID: PMC2826511  PMID: 19913396
asthma; allergy; IgE; children; Hispanic; indoor allergens
25.  House dust mite barrier bedding for childhood asthma: randomised placebo controlled trial in primary care [ISRCTN63308372] 
BMC Family Practice  2002;3:12.
The house dust mite is the most important environmental allergen implicated in the aetiology of childhood asthma in the UK. Dust mite barrier bedding is relatively inexpensive, convenient to use, and of proven effectiveness in reducing mattress house dust mite load, but no studies have evaluated its clinical effectiveness in the control of childhood asthma when dispensed in primary care. We therefore aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of house dust mite barrier bedding in children with asthma treated in primary care.
Pragmatic, randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled trial conducted in eight family practices in England. Forty-seven children aged 5 to 14 years with confirmed house dust mite sensitive asthma were randomised to receive six months treatment with either house dust mite barrier or placebo bedding. Peak expiratory flow was the main outcome measure of interest; secondary outcome measures included asthma symptom scores and asthma medication usage.
No difference was noted in mean monthly peak expiratory flow, asthma symptom score, medication usage or asthma consultations, between children who received active bedding and those who received placebo bedding.
Treating house dust mite sensitive asthmatic children in primary care with house dust mite barrier bedding for six months failed to improve peak expiratory flow. Results strongly suggest that the intervention made no impact upon other clinical features of asthma.
PMCID: PMC116603  PMID: 12079502

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