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Asthma morbidity and mortality rates are high among young inner-city children. Lack of routine primary care provider (PCP) visits, poor access to care, and poor patient-physician communication may be contributing factors.
This study evaluated the effects of providing Breathmobile services only, a Facilitated Asthma Communication Intervention (FACI) only, or both Breathmobile+FACI on asthma outcomes, relative to standard care.
Children with asthma (n=322, mean age=4 years, 53% male, 97% African American) were recruited from Head Start programs in Baltimore City and randomized into four groups. Outcome measures included symptom-free days, urgent care use (emergency department visits and hospitalizations) and medication use (courses of oral steroids and proportion on an asthma controller medication) as reported by caregivers at baseline, 6-, and 12-month assessments. Generalized Estimating Equations models were conducted to examine the differential treatment effects of Breathmobile and FACI compared to standard care.
Children in the combined treatment group (Breathmobile+FACI) had an increase of 1.7 (6.6%) symptom-free days (SFD) that was not maintained at 12 months. In intent-to-treat analyses, the FACI-only group had an increase in the number of ED visits at 6 months, which was not present at 12 months or in the post hoc as-treated analyses. No significant differences were found between the intervention groups as compared to standard care on all other outcome measures.
Other than a slight improvement in SFD at 6 months in the Breatmobile+FACI group, the intervention components did not result in any significant improvements in asthma management or asthma morbidity.
PMCID: PMC3290717  PMID: 22104603
asthma; intervention; communication; quality of life; interaction; barriers
3.  The impact of food allergy on asthma 
Food allergy is a potentially severe immune response to a food or food additive. Although a majority of children will outgrow their food allergies, some may have lifelong issues. Food allergies and other atopic conditions, such as asthma, are increasing in prevalence in Western countries. As such, it is not uncommon to note the co-existence of food allergy and asthma in the same patient. As part of the atopic march, many food allergic patients may develop asthma later in life. Each can adversely affect the other. Food allergic patients with asthma have a higher risk of developing life-threatening food-induced reactions. Although food allergy is not typically an etiology of asthma, an asthmatic patient with food allergy may have higher rates of morbidity and mortality associated with the asthma. Asthma is rarely a manifestation of food allergy alone, but the symptoms can be seen with allergic reactions to foods. There may be evidence to suggest that early childhood environmental factors, such as the mother’s and child’s diets, factor in the development of asthma; however, the evidence continues to be conflicting. All food allergic patients and their families should be counseled on the management of food allergy and the risk of developing co-morbid asthma.
PMCID: PMC3047906  PMID: 21437041
food allergy; diagnosis; treatment; asthma
4.  Asthma and Mood Disorders 
The high rate of comorbidity of asthma and mood disorders would imply the possibility of potential shared pathophysiologic factors. Proposed links between asthma and mood disorders include a vulnerability (trait) and state connection. Vulnerability for both asthma and mood disorders may involve genetic and early developmental factors. State-related connections may include obstructive factors, inflammatory factors, sleep impairment, psychological reactions to chronic medical illness, as well as exacerbation of asthma in individuals with chronic stress. Treatment for asthma may also exacerbate mood disorders. New research suggests involvement of the central nervous system in asthma and allergy. Further characterization of clinical, psychological, cellular and molecular interconnections between asthma and mood disorders is needed to better evaluate and treat these patients. A close collaboration between mental health professionals and allergists could result in improved symptom control, quality of life, overall functioning and ultimately, decreased mortality.
PMCID: PMC2631932  PMID: 19180246
asthma; major depression; mood disorders; suicide; anxiety disorders; inflammation; sleep
5.  Patterns of Inhaled Antiinflammatory Medication Use in Young Underserved Children With Asthma 
Pediatrics  2006;118(6):2504-2513.
Asthma guidelines advocate inhaled corticosteroids as the cornerstone treatment of persistent asthma, yet several studies report underuse of inhaled corticosteroids in children with persistent asthma. Moreover, few studies use objective pharmacy data as a measure of drug availability of asthma medications. We examined factors associated with the use of inhaled corticosteroids in young underserved children with persistent asthma using pharmacy records as their source of asthma medications.
This was a cross-sectional analysis of questionnaire and pharmacy record data over a 12-month period from participants enrolled in a randomized clinical trial of a nebulizer educational intervention.
Although exposure to ≥1 inhaled corticosteroids refill was high at 72%, 1 of 5 children with persistent asthma had either no medication or only short-acting β agonist fills for 12 months. Only 20% of children obtained ≥6 inhaled corticosteroids fills over 12 months. Obtaining ≥3 inhaled corticosteroids fills over 12 months was significantly associated with an increase in short-acting β agonist fills and receiving specialty care in the regression models while controlling for child age, asthma severity, number of emergency department visits, having an asthma action plan, and seeking preventive care for the child’s asthma.
Overreliance on short-acting β agonist and underuse of inhaled corticosteroid medications was common in this group of young children with persistent asthma. Only one fifth of children obtained sufficient controller medication fills.
PMCID: PMC2290000  PMID: 17142537
asthma; children; preventive care; antiinflammatory
6.  Latex allergy and occupational asthma in health care workers: adverse outcomes. 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2004;112(3):378-381.
The prevalence of natural rubber latex (NRL) allergy has been estimated to be 5-18% in health care workers, and latex exposure has been one of the leading causes of occupational asthma in the last several years. We present the cases of two nurses who developed sensitivity to NRL, both with dermatologic symptoms and respiratory symptoms that included asthma. They were referred to the University of Maryland for evaluation of their allergies, then for occupational and environmental consults. The patients' allergy to NRL was confirmed on the basis of clinical history, a positive skin test to latex, and the presence of latex-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) serology by radioallergosorbent test (RAST). Both patients worked in the same community hospital for approximately 20 years; one was an endoscopy nurse and the other worked in the emergency department. Following the diagnosis of allergy to latex, both patients avoided direct skin contact with latex, but they continued to work in the same respective environments, where powdered latex gloves and other potentially sensitizing chemicals were used. Instead of improving, the clinical condition of the patients worsened and they remained symptomatic, even after they were removed from their workplace. Their airways reacted to low levels of a variety of sensitizers and irritants in the environment, and they became depressed. Both nurses were referred for vocational rehabilitation.
PMCID: PMC1241870  PMID: 14998756

Results 1-6 (6)