Cockroach control in homes reduces asthma symptoms in children

Exposure to cockroaches is a major trigger for asthma symptoms, especially in children with asthma who live in cities. Controlling the presence of these insects is not always easy, but it is necessary because, according to a study carried out in the USA, the mere strategic application of low-toxicity insecticide baits can significantly reduce exposure to cockroaches and asthma symptoms.

Cockroach control in homes reduces asthma symptoms in children

In addition to being excellent carriers of a wide variety of pathogenic microbes, such as e.coli y salmonellaCockroaches disperse certain allergenic proteins in their wake, found in their droppings, saliva and body, which can cause allergic reactions or trigger asthma symptoms, particularly in children.

A study carried out in tulane university from New Orleans (USA) and published in the magazine Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology investigates the impact of reducing the presence and exposure to cockroaches on the incidence of asthma attacks in children.

For this, 102 children aged between 5 and 17 years, with moderate to severe asthma, living in the city of New Orleans and whose families are mostly low-income were followed.

While integrated pest management is the recommended approach to reducing cockroach populations, it can be difficult to implement in homes. Therefore, in the study we chose to test the impact that the use of a single intervention can have; the application of insecticidal baits to reduce exposure to these insects.

Insecticidal bait is inexpensive and exposes households to a relatively small amount of pesticides compared to other forms of pest control.

The impact of treatment was randomized for one year for both the presence of cockroaches and asthma morbidity. Professional pest control technicians visited the homes every two to three months and strategically placed the baits in the kitchen, living room and children’s bedroom.

Less cockroaches and less asthma

Three months after the beginning of the study, a notable difference was already noticed in the number of insects detected in the residences with baits and in the control residences, without intervention. At 12 months, none of the bait-treated homes had cockroach infestations, as opposed to 22% of the non-baited control homes that had cockroaches.

In terms of children’s health, those who lived in homes treated with baits had better results, having, on average, 47 fewer days with asthma symptoms throughout the year. In contrast, children with cockroach allergies in untreated homes were significantly more likely to miss school and have to go to the emergency room doctor.

The authors conclude that exposure to cockroaches is an important factor in asthma disparities which, despite a general trend of stabilizing prevalence, continues to increase among people with less economic resources. Therefore, they deem it necessary to identify affordable and feasible interventions for low-income families that result in clinical benefits.

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