NIAID And NIEHS Recruit For National Cooperative Inner-City Study To ReduceAsthma Severity In Children

September 21, 1998

Investigators supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) are recruiting children with moderate to severe asthma for a large nationwide multicenter study.

The study, in seven sites in inner cities across the United States, aims to reduce the severity of asthma among low-income children. Participating research institutions are located in Boston, Mass.; Chicago, Ill.; Dallas, Texas; New York, N.Y. (Bronx and Manhattan); Seattle, Wash.; and Tucson, Ariz.

Asthma has been increasing in the United States over several decades. This increase is most apparent among children, especially those living in inner cities. Approximately 15 million Americans suffer from asthma. Annually, in the United States about 500,000 asthma-related hospitalizations occur and 5,000 people die.

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., NIAID director, says, "This study affirms our commitment to learn more about how to reduce asthma in our inner-city pediatric populations, children primarily of African American and Hispanic heritage. Our goal is to aid children and their families by providing valuable insights on managing a child’s asthma through education, environmental controls and behavior modification."

NIEHS Director Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., adds, "We want to enable inner-city families to help their kids avoid asthma attacks by modifying their environment. That means reducing the allergens – the things the youngsters are allergic to – with such things as plastic covers on their pillows and mattresses, air filters, and the elimination of mold and insects."

Focusing on more than 1,000 children between the ages of 4 and 12 with moderate to severe asthma, the study will test the effectiveness of two interventions. One intervention entails a novel communication/physician education system in which patient information on asthma severity, medication use and health care utilization, obtained through bimonthly phone interviews, will be interpreted according to the asthma care guidelines developed by the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program. This information will be provided to the asthma patients’ primary care physicians, and the study will evaluate the value of this exchange in improving medical care.

The other intervention involves educating families about reducing indoor allergens and passive cigarette smoke, which may trigger asthma attacks. In addition, extensive allergen reduction measures will be undertaken at no cost to participating families. These measures will include professional cockroach extermination; extensive and repeated cleaning; repair of cracks and pest entry points; encasing of mattresses and pillows in dust-proof or allergen-proof covers (zippered plastic); and using air filters to reduce airborne allergens, including allergens from household pets (such as cats and dogs) and fungal allergens. Follow-up home evaluations will assess the impact of the intervention on the levels of indoor allergens. The effectiveness of the intervention will be assessed by its capacity to reduce the severity of asthma in these children.

In addition to NIAID and NIEHS, this study is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Pediatric Research Initiative. NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

NIAID, a component of NIH located in Bethesda, Md., conducts and supports research aimed at preventing, diagnosing and treating illnesses such as AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, asthma and allergies.

NIEHS, another component of NIH in Research Triangle Park, N.C., conducts and supports research to understand the impact of the environment on human diseases such as asthma, translates this research into strategies to prevent disease and promote health, and communicates this information to the public.

The NIH Pediatric Research Initiative is a continuing effort to strengthen the pediatric biomedical research portfolio, encourage collaborative efforts across institutes in high priority areas, and to assure expanding opportunities for advancement in scientific investigations involving children.

NIAID/NIEHS National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma Study

Those interested in participating in the study should contact the institution in their local community.
NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIAID conducts and supports research to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such as HIV disease and other sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, malaria, asthma and allergies. NIH is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Press releases, fact sheets and other NIAID-related materials are available on the Internet via the NIAID Web site at

NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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