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The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America will recap some of the top research about allergies and asthma every three months. Here is a look at studies reported between January and March. Read about how treating homes for cockroaches can improve children's asthma, a possible link between insomnia and developing asthma, the safety of allergy immunotherapy and more.

What Is the Link Between Obesity and Asthma for Kids?

Are young children with asthma more likely to become obese later in childhood, or as teens? It is uncertain if kids with asthma are at a higher risk for obesity, or whether obese kids develop asthma, or both.

Doctors consider children obese when their body mass index is at or above the 95th percentile for kids of the same age and sex.

In a recent study, researchers found that young children with asthma were 51 percent more likely to become obese than children without asthma.1 The use of quick-relief rescue medications cut the risk of becoming obese by 43 percent.

Why is this important?

It's important to treat and diagnose asthma early. Families and health care providers can use strategies to teach kids with asthma to stay healthy by:

Treating Homes for Cockroach Can Help Kids' Asthma Symptoms


A cockroach allergy is a common trigger of year-round allergy and asthma. If you are allergic to cockroach, it can trigger asthma attacks. A study in the New Orleans area found that treating homes with insecticide cut children's asthma symptoms.2

Children in treated homes showed improvement in asthma symptoms and lung function. They also sought out unscheduled health care for asthma symptoms less often than before.

The yearlong study focused on children with moderate-to-severe asthma. Before the study, their asthma sent them to the hospital or for other emergency care.

Fifty-two of the 102 homes received insecticidal bait for cockroach infestation. Children in those homes had a reduction in wheezing, tightness of chest and cough.

They also had 17% fewer unscheduled clinic and emergency visits than children in untreated homes.

Why is this important?

Both kids with cockroach allergy and kids without the allergy saw an improvement in their asthma. The study showed how integrated pest management can improve the health of those with asthma.

One-third of Canadian Adults Found Not to Have Asthma After Rescreening Years Later

About one-third of Canadian adults who were told they had asthma did not have it when they were rechecked a few years later.

Over 600 adults who received a physician diagnosis of asthma within the previous five years completed symptom questionnaires and had lung function tests.

Roughly 200 patients were found not to have current asthma. These people were less likely to have received lung function testing at their initial diagnosis, compared to those with confirmed asthma, according to the study.3

Why is this important?

The study shows the importance of getting a proper asthma diagnosis.

Kids From Poorer Families More Likely to Have Both Asthma, ADHD

Children in poorer families are developing asthma and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at faster rates than kids from wealthier families.

Researchers looked at results from the U.S. National Survey of Children’s Health.4 They found a rise in parent-reported rates of asthma, ADHD and autism. Asthma and ADHD rates rose 18 percent and 44 percent, respectively, between 2003 and 2012, while autism rates soared 400 percent.

Why is this important?

Family income and access to health insurance likely play a large role in a child’s physical and mental health. The study noted policies that support health care providers, promote high-quality care for children, and support low-income children and families should be considered.

Have Insomnia? Study Says You Have a Higher Asthma Risk


Uncontrolled asthma often acts up at night, interfering with sleep. Do people who have trouble sleeping, but do not yet have asthma, have a higher risk for developing the respiratory disease later?

Insomnia is defined as having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking too early.

A Norwegian study looked at 17,927 adults with insomnia between the ages of 20 and 65. The risk of developing asthma was three times higher in those people with chronic insomnia, compared to those without.5

Why is this important?

Doctors said knowing more about the negative effects of insomnia could be helpful in preventing asthma. But this would have to be confirmed with other studies.

How Does Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome Affect Daily Living Compared to Asthma or COPD Alone?

Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are both incurable and potentially disabling. In this study, researchers interviewed adults between 40 to 85 years of age with asthma, COPD or asthma-COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS).6

Of 3,486 people with asthma or COPD, 45.4% had asthma alone, 37.1% had COPD alone, and 17.4% had ACOS.

Researchers compared what people said about their disease, as well as information about their use of health care. Patient-reported outcomes included activities of daily living (ADLs), mobility, social/recreational activities, disability days in bed and health status. The research included patient-reported data on visits to health care providers, emergency rooms and hospitalizations.

Overall, adults with ACOS had greater health issues than those with just one disease. They also used more health care services than those with just asthma or COPD alone.

Why is this important?

The authors said the study could influence public health policy and clinical guidelines for people with ACOS.

How Safe Is Allergen Immunotherapy?

What is the risk of allergic reactions from two different types of allergen immunotherapy? To answer that question, researchers looked at eight years of data.7

They found reactions have been declining. However, people with asthma are most at risk for them.

Allergists or immunologists give subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), or traditional allergy injections. These allergy shots are an effective way to improve tolerance to airborne allergens. Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a newer method, where people take the treatment under their tongue.

This research included reports from allergists surveyed from two major professional organizations. They provided information on 46.6 million injection visits.

Out of the 46.6 million visits, there were three reported deaths linked to allergic reactions to the injections.

Why is this important?

Allergens are a major trigger for asthma. Immunotherapy offers a treatment that can improve quality of life and has low risks for most people.

Black Children Six Times More Likely to Die of Asthma


Black children are six times more likely to die of asthma than Hispanic or white children, according to national statistics.

Researchers used National Center for Health Statistics data to look into 2,571 asthma deaths between 2003 and 2014.8

Just over 50% of deaths for all groups happened in emergency departments or clinics, rather than at home or in a hospital. Children who had been in the hospital made up 30% of total deaths. Deaths at home or out of the health care setting totaled 14%. For all locations, black children were more likely to die than any other group examined in the study.

Understanding where children die may aid in our understanding of how to prevent asthma deaths, researchers said.

Why is this important?

This study can influence public health policy and clinical guidelines for asthma treatment in black children. This study presents a major alarm for patient advocacy groups, health clinicians and lawmakers.



[1] Chen, Z., et al. (2017). Effects of Childhood Asthma on the Development of Obesity Among School-aged Children. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 

[2] Rabito, Felicia A. (2017). A single intervention for cockroach control reduces cockroach exposure and asthma morbidity in children. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 

[3] Aaron, Shawn D., et al. (2017). Reevaluation of Diagnosis in Adults With Physician-Diagnosed Asthma. Journal of the American Medical Association. 

[4] Pulcini, Christian D., et al. (2017). Poverty and Trends in Three Common Chronic Disorders. Pediatrics.  

[5] Brumpton, Ben, et al. (2017). Prospective study of insomnia and incident asthma in adults: the HUNT study. European Respiratory Journal.  

[6] Vaz Fragoso, C.A., et al. (2017). Asthma–COPD overlap syndrome in the US: a prospective population-based analysis of patient-reported outcomes and health care utilization. International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. 

[7] Epstein, Tolly, et al. (2017).  Evaluation of Risk Factors for Infections and Systemic Reactions (SRs) Associated with Subcutaneous and Sublingual Allergen Immunotherapy (SCIT and SLIT): AAAAI/ACAAI National Surveillance Study 2008-2015. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 

[8] Chen Arroyo, Anna J., et al. (2017).  Where Do Children with Asthma Die? A National Perspective from 2003 to 2014. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.


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