You took your son or daughter who has asthma to an allergist and the doctor does an allergy skin test and tells you he or she has a cockroach allergy, what do you do now? Cockroach allergy is an important trigger in asthma exacerbations especially for children. Cockroach exposure results in severe asthma outcomes and it is a major contributor to missed school days. Cockroach allergen induces a potent allergy response at low levels of exposure.
Allergen avoidance is one of the basic principles of asthma management. Current recommendations are to reduce cockroach exposure as a strategy to improve asthma. Extermination companies can be costly for low income families, recent studies have shown that insecticidal baits alone can eliminate cockroaches. In baiting, baits are placed in out of the way locations to lure cockroaches into consuming insecticide. A recent study published in the August 2017 issue of Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology looked at the single intervention of insecticidal baits in the homes of children with asthma. The goals of the study were to determine whether baiting reduces cockroach infestation and whether reducing cockroaches results in reduced asthma morbidity, improved biomarkers of inflammation and reduced health care utilization.
The study found that in the homes of children who had cockroach allergy and who were exposed to cockroaches, a single intervention-the strategic placement of insecticidal bait-results in eradication of cockroaches and improved asthma outcomes for children. Cockroach elimination was achieved rapidly and was sustained over the course of a year. Asthma symptom days decreased. The number of unscheduled clinic and ER visits decreased and lung function improved.
This study adds important insight into the role of allergen avoidance in managing asthma. All children who have asthma should see an allergy specialist to determine what their allergic triggers are. Numerous interventions can be done whether you have a cockroach allergy, pollen, dust mites and/or animal dander. In this study, a simple intervention in the homes of children who had asthma and cockroach allergy improved their asthma greatly. If your child has asthma, ask your pediatrician about a referral to an allergy doctor who can test for asthma triggers.