Health Watch — Clean Air: Cockroaches

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about air quality, asthma and allergies. Previously, we discussed some of the indoor air quality issues that mean inner-city kids have a greater risk of asthma. When you think of indoor allergens, you may think of dust mites, tobacco smoke or maybe even household pets, but the leading cause of asthma symptoms is cockroaches.

Doctors have found that children with cockroach allergies had more asthma symptoms, missed more school because of asthma, and had to go to the doctor more often. In contrast, exposure to dust mites didn’t cause an increase in asthma problems, and exposure to pet dander led to only a slight increase in doctor visits. Dr. Rebecca Gruchalla, chief of allergy at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says levels of cockroach allergens vary by region, and there are geographic differences in allergic reactions, with children in the northeast who live in apartments the most affected.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/allergy to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in allergies.

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May 2008

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