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Home allergens hit hard in young asthma patients.

WASHINGTON -- Exposure to environmental asthma triggers at home was significantly associated with an increased risk of asthma-related hospitalizations in children younger than 4 years compared with older children, based on data from 306 children up to 18 years of age.

The percentage of hospitalizations for asthma in younger children also rose significantly with an increase in the number of home triggers, said Elizabeth Banda of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In this study, Ms. Banda and her colleagues reviewed data from children with asthma (aged 0-18 years) who were enrolled in an asthma prevention program. The children were divided into three age groups: 0-4 years (74 children), 5-11 years (150 children), and 12 years and older (82 children). The researchers collected data on hospitalizations and on the indoor allergens in each child's home via questionnaires.

Overall, 31% of children aged 0-4 years, 15% of those aged 5-11 years, and 11% of those aged 12 years and older were hospitalized for asthma within a year of enrollment in the study.

Compared with older children, asthma hospitalizations in children aged 0-4 years were more than three times as likely to be associated with smoke, holes, or dampness, more than four times as likely to be associated with basement use and rodents, and more than five times as likely to be associated with roaches and clutter.

The study results were presented in a poster at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

In addition, in children 0-4 years of age, the risk of asthma hospitalization was 9 times greater if they were exposed to five to six home asthma conditions, compared with zero to four home conditions, and nearly 16 times greater if they were exposed to more than six home conditions.

The results were limited by the small sample size and cross-sectional design, and by a lack of information about the degree of exposure to indoor environmental allergens. More research is needed to explore the role of indoor allergens on asthma hospitalizations in children. But the findings suggest that younger children may be at greater risk for asthma-related hospitalizations because they spend more time in the home being exposed to indoor environmental triggers compared with older children, the researchers wrote.

The study was supported by Merck Childhood Asthma Network Inc. Ms. Banda said she had no personal financial conflicts to disclose.

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Title Annotation:CLINICAL ROUNDS
Author:Splete, Heidi
Publication:Pediatric News
Date:Jun 1, 2009
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