BALTIMORE -- Common house mice may be a major contributor to asthma among inner-city children, according to scientists at The Johns Hopkins University.
Asthma affects approximately 15 million Americans, including 5 million children. An estimated 7 percent of children nationally have the disease, though researchers say it's twice as common in inner cities.
In a study involving eight urban areas, scientists discovered that 95 percent of tested homes had at least one room containing mouse allergen -- substances that cause allergic reactions, such as mouse urine or dander. Baltimore topped the charts at 100 percent.
The study found that 18 percent of the children in the homes were allergic to mice and tended to have severe asthma.
For years, researchers have known that cats, dogs, dust mites and cockroaches can cause allergies that trigger the wheezing and constricted air passages of asthma.
"While cockroach is the more important allergen, mouse is second in line," said Dr. Robert Wood, associate professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins and the study's lead investigator.
Researchers used data from the National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma Study, completed in 1996, which covered 1,528 children ages 4 to 9 in Baltimore, Washington, the Bronx and Brooklyn in New York City, St. Louis, Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit.
The children all were diagnosed with asthma and lived in neighborhoods where 30 percent or more of the households had incomes below the 1990 poverty level.
Researchers analyzed dust samples from the homes of 608 of the children in the earlier study. The highest levels of mouse allergen were found in kitchens, followed by bedrooms and then living rooms.
On the Net:
Johns Hopkins Allergy and Asthma: http://www.hopkins-allergy.org
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.