Breaking News
May 24, 2018 - FDA warns against using teething remedies for babies
May 24, 2018 - Healthy lifestyle counseling program linked to reduced risk of developing cancers
May 24, 2018 - CU research sheds light on liver disease caused by intravenous nutrition
May 24, 2018 - Skin cream containing rapamycin reduces TSC-related facial tumors
May 24, 2018 - Suicide rates twice as high among black children finds new study
May 24, 2018 - Researchers find new method to treat severe asthma
May 24, 2018 - Scientists report new strategy for fighting bacteria
May 24, 2018 - South Asians living in the United States more likely to die of heart disease and stroke
May 24, 2018 - Health Tip: Why Get a Biopsy
May 24, 2018 - Metabolic Syndrome Prevalence by Race/Ethnicity and Sex in the United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988–2012
May 24, 2018 - Motivation to move may start with being mindful
May 24, 2018 - Advanced genetics study of TB bacteria uncovers virulent ‘Beijing lineage’ strain among young adults
May 24, 2018 - Friends tend to have similar pain tolerance levels, study reveals
May 24, 2018 - Now more of us can count on more time dodging the dementia bullet
May 24, 2018 - Global healthcare access and quality improved from 2000-2016
May 24, 2018 - Virtual follow-up visits for hypertension care just as effective as in-person office visits
May 24, 2018 - New research reveals links between type 1 diabetes and mental health
May 24, 2018 - Antioxidant-enriched multivitamin may decrease respiratory illnesses in CF patients, finds study
May 24, 2018 - Antidepressant treatments increase risk of weight gain, study finds
May 24, 2018 - INSYS Therapeutics Confirms Outcome of FDA Advisory Committee Meeting on Buprenorphine Sublingual Spray
May 24, 2018 - Poor older adults with Medicaid insurance more likely to die after hospital discharge
May 24, 2018 - Early-life obesity linked to children’s lower perceptual reasoning and working memory scores
May 24, 2018 - Health and diagnostics to soon be digitalized with advent of AI
May 24, 2018 - USC researchers develop new portable device for early-stage malaria detection
May 24, 2018 - Psychologists show that depression accelerates brain aging
May 24, 2018 - Novel IR imaging offers rapid and reliable analysis of cancer tissues
May 24, 2018 - Tau mutations may serve as novel risk factor for cancer
May 24, 2018 - Sun Pharma Announces FDA Approval of Yonsa (abiraterone acetate) to Treat Metastatic Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer
May 24, 2018 - Nurse dead in Congo as Ebola vaccination campaign starts
May 24, 2018 - Unique imaging technique identifies biomarkers of cellular damage done by diabetic retinopathy
May 24, 2018 - Study identifies key food allergy policies that parents want in schools to improve safety of kids
May 24, 2018 - Formaldehyde risk found to be higher in e-cigarettes than originally thought
May 24, 2018 - NIH commences first-in-human trial evaluating experimental treatment for Ebola
May 24, 2018 - Study finds no link between surveillance intensity and detection of recurrence or survival in CRC patients
May 24, 2018 - FDA Alert: Oral Over-the-Counter Benzocaine Products: Drug Safety Communication
May 24, 2018 - Fiber-fermenting bacteria improve health of type 2 diabetes patients
May 24, 2018 - Free e-cigarettes do not help smokers quit, money does finds study
May 24, 2018 - Higher exposure to carbon monoxide in utero increases risk of poor lung function in infants
May 24, 2018 - Neurologists identify new type of vertigo
May 24, 2018 - Scientists identify new inherited neurodevelopmental disease
May 24, 2018 - New family support program improves patient-centered care and lowers hospitalization costs
May 24, 2018 - Researchers take important step toward finding protein biomarkers during cancer surgery
May 24, 2018 - Deadly form of black lung disease found to be increasing among U.S. coal miners
May 24, 2018 - Robust Immune Responses for Herpes Zoster Subunit Vaccine
May 24, 2018 - Optical Coherence Tomography | Texas Heart Institute
May 24, 2018 - Type 2 diabetes slowly rising in Auckland kids – Pacific and Māori have highest rates
May 24, 2018 - Study explores brain chemistry of alcohol exposure in people with family history of AUD
May 24, 2018 - Study shows AVATS procedure as safe, effective alternative for patients deemed ‘inoperable’
May 24, 2018 - Comparative Analysis of a Complex Monoclonal Antibody
May 24, 2018 - Penn investigators discover source of immune molecule involved in nasal polyps, asthma
May 24, 2018 - Berries and Grapes May Keep You Breathin’ Easy
May 24, 2018 - Access and utilization of dental services for Medicaid children 2013-2015
May 23, 2018 - New research raises concern about rate of postpartum hemorrhage
May 23, 2018 - Researchers create new modeling framework that takes a zoonotic perspective on Ebola
May 23, 2018 - Study compares bacteria in humans to the laboratory
May 23, 2018 - Frequent sauna bathing reduces risk of stroke
May 23, 2018 - Landmark trial to test implantable defibrillator in diabetic patients with history of heart attack
May 23, 2018 - Vitamin C consumption may reduce harm to baby’s lungs due to smoking during pregnancy
May 23, 2018 - Researchers complete genomic map of chronic lymphocytic leukemia
May 23, 2018 - Medical students take to the streets to learn about real world problems at the root of poor health
May 23, 2018 - New efforts to curb high blood pressure in Asia
May 23, 2018 - Malaria-causing parasite seeks refuge inside the liver to replicate and survive
May 23, 2018 - Slower rates of stimulation may be more effective in brain therapy, suggests research
May 23, 2018 - Study finds connection between one partner’s BMI and other spouse’s risk of developing diabetes
May 23, 2018 - Mapping the Genes Responsible for Pluripotency
May 23, 2018 - FDA Alert: Homeopathic Teething Drops, Nausea Drops, Intestinal Colic Drops, Stomach Calm, Expectorant Cough Syrup, Silver-Zinc Throat Spray, and Argentum Elixir by MBI Distributing: Recall
May 23, 2018 - Genetic fixer-uppers may predict bladder cancer prognosis
May 23, 2018 - Investigational technology could increase donor organ supply for lung transplants
May 23, 2018 - Prediabetic patients with OSA could lower their resting heart rates by using CPAP
May 23, 2018 - Schizophrenics’ blood samples feature genetic material from more types of microorganisms
May 23, 2018 - Subtle hearing deficits can change the brains of young people
May 23, 2018 - New study shows increased rates of hospitalization for suicide among youths
May 23, 2018 - Proportion of Drug-Intoxicated Organ Donors on the Rise in U.S.
May 23, 2018 - Using virtual biopsies to improve melanoma detection
May 23, 2018 - Compassion meditation training may increase brain’s resilience to suffering of other people
May 23, 2018 - New AAD PSA uses social media imagery to highlight tanning hazards
May 23, 2018 - Frequent MRSA surveillance could contain infection in newborns, study finds
May 23, 2018 - Medicaid expansion linked to reduction in ICU utilization
May 23, 2018 - Proteins moderating nicotine dependence may help fat cells burn energy
May 23, 2018 - Researchers identify mechanisms that regulate mammary gland development
Scrubbing homes of allergens may tame disease and its costs

Scrubbing homes of allergens may tame disease and its costs

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

After years of studying the causes of asthma, a pediatrician-turned-public health sleuth thinks there’s a way to substantially reduce its impact.

But the approach faces a big hurdle: getting someone to pay for it, said Dr. Elizabeth Matsui, a professor at Johns Hopkins medical school in Baltimore.

Matsui, who suffered from asthma as a child, has spent much of her career studying the link between poor housing and asthma in low-income neighborhoods. In particular, she’s looked at the effects of mouse allergens, typically found in high concentrations in urban homes.

Matsui cited a 2004 study in the New England Journal of Medicine that described measures to reduce home allergen levels and concluded that they were linked to reductions in asthma symptoms.

That research “was highly successful and impactful,” but the approach wasn’t widely adopted, Matsui said.

“So here we have this trial that was published more than 10 years ago that shows [indoor allergen control] works,” said Matsui, who did not participate in the study. “But the families who need it most can’t afford to do these things, don’t have control oftentimes over their home environment, and insurance or other payers don’t cover these things.”

Matsui has proposed new incentives for hospitals to provide home intervention, including Medicaid waivers. But, she said, scientists can’t use research money for these programs. “Delivery of community health care programs would require a different type of funding.”

As a result, doctors and scientists doubted if a plan to control home allergens would scale up, and insurers questioned whether benefits to their bottom line would justify the added cost.

“We have this enormous public health problem in that there are housing conditions that directly affect allergen exposure in this population of kids,” Matsui said. “We have dedicated individuals and groups who are trying to solve the problem. But we don’t have a system that is able to solve the problem.”

A 2017 study by Matsui, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that even without intensive professional cleaning services, families that receive some training can substantially reduce home allergens on their own.

That finding suggests health agencies should routinely offer to educate asthma-affected families in home allergen control. “There’s potentially a large benefit,” Matsui said.

In a separate study, Matsui’s group is following 200 Baltimore children to see if those in homes scrubbed of allergens need fewer treatments with rescue inhalers. If they do, that could give health insurers an incentive to pay for the approach.

There’s another incentive: Clearing the air in a child’s home may be critical in cases where medications alone don’t work. “We continue to see a lot of kids that, despite being on medication, don’t have well-controlled asthma,” Matsui said.

Asthma drugs can also have serious side effects, she said, especially at higher doses, and may suppress symptoms without halting lung damage.

Matsui’s work on asthma began while working as a pediatrician at Baltimore’s Franklin Square Hospital in 1998. As part of her job, she spent half a day each week in a school health clinic in a low-income area.

Matsui was struck by the number of kids she saw with severe asthma, she said, and set up a home health visit program to help them. But she wasn’t certain the program was working, so she consulted with experts at Hopkins.

In 2004, she earned a master’s from the Hopkins school of public health. Today, she is one of the nation’s leading asthma researchers.

Matsui said her career was shaped by her own struggle with childhood asthma. “I think that that probably played a role, consciously or unconsciously,” she said.

KHN’s coverage of health disparities in east Baltimore is supported by The Annie E. Casey Foundation.


Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles