Pest Allergies in Urban Adolescents Exacerbate Poorly Controlled Asthma

Dead mouse on table
Dead mouse on table
Cockroach and mouse allergies were most often associated with poorly controlled asthma and exacerbations in urban adolescents.

Urban adolescents with asthma have a frequent concomitant occurrence of allergies, with cockroach and mouse allergies being most often associated with poorly controlled asthma symptoms, exacerbations, and acute healthcare utilization, according to a study published in Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology.

Researchers examined the prevalence of common allergies in urban adolescents and assessed their associations with asthma control and healthcare utilization. Participants (N=313; 79% black; 52% female) were 12 to 20 years old (mean 14.58± 1.97 years) and had persistent asthma. Self-reported data on 9 outdoor and indoor allergies, asthma exacerbations, and healthcare utilization were collected.

The most commonly reported allergies were dust mites and grass (50% each). Mouse allergies were reported by 19% of participants, and cockroach allergies by 27.5% of participants. Having pest allergies was associated with more frequent specialist visits (mouse odds ratio [OR], 2.06, 95% CI, 1.15-3.68, P =.01; cockroach OR, 2.69, 95% CI, 1.60-4.54, P <.001), emergency department visits (mouse OR, 2.13, 95% CI, 1.09-4.07, P =.02; cockroach OR, 2.16, 95% CI, 1.18-3.94, P =.01;), and asthma exacerbations (mouse OR, 2.30, 95% CI, 1.26-4.18, P =.01; cockroach OR, 2.17, 95% CI, 1.26-3.74, P <.001). Compared with participants without pest allergies, mouse allergies were associated with 1.6 times the number of emergency department visits (95% CI, 1.09-2.26, P =.015) and cockroach allergies with 2.2 times the number of nights spent in the hospital and 2.2 times the number of specialist visits (95% CI, 1.05-3.40, P =.036, and 95% CI, 1.49-3.11, P <.001, respectively).

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The investigators concluded, “[O]ur findings call for clinicians’ careful assessment of allergy status in urban adolescents with asthma, and proactive management of known or potential allergies to prevent and minimize adverse outcomes of asthma.”


Rhee H, Love T, Harrington D, Grape A. Common allergies in urban adolescents and their relationships with asthma control and healthcare utilization [published online September 3, 2018]. Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. doi:10.1186/s13223-018-0260-y