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For children living in the inner city, being exposed to cockroaches regularly can trigger their asthma and reduce their quality of life. But a study in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that just by putting cockroach bait in homes, the number of pests was reduced significantly and children had almost 50 fewer days with asthma symptoms a year.

The study followed 102 children with moderate to severe asthma living in the greater New Orleans area for a year. Most families (92 percent) had a household income of less than $25,000. “In homes that were being treated with cockroach bait, technicians would visit every two to three months and place traps in the kitchen, living room and the child’s bedroom,” a press release about the research said. “Insecticidal bait is inexpensive and exposes families to a relatively small amount of pesticides compared to other forms of pest control.”

“Cockroach exposure is an important contributor to asthma disparities which, despite an overall trend for stabilization in prevalence, continues to rise among the poor,” said Felicia Rabito, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. “Identifying interventions that result in clinical benefits and that are affordable, and feasible for low-income families are urgently needed.”

Three months into the study there was a noticeable difference in the number of insects between houses with cockroach bait and homes with no intervention. At 12 months, no homes treated with bait had a cockroach infestation compared to 22 percent of control homes that were not treated with insect bait.

Children in homes being treated had better health outcomes. On average, they had 47 fewer days with asthma symptoms over the course of a year. Conversely, children with a cockroach allergy in untreated homes were significantly more likely to miss school and have unscheduled emergency room visits.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 6,900 members in the United States, Canada and 72 other countries.