A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that children’s asthma symptoms can be triggered by exposure to rodent allergens, especially in schools.
In the study, dust samples were taken at 37 inner-city schools in the Northeast, and analyzed for allergens. Allergens from mice were found in almost every sample taken, and the levels of allergens were generally even higher than allergen levels in homes. The study also found that children who attended schools that had higher mouse allergen levels also tended to have asthma symptoms, including decreased lung function, more often.
Other allergens were also detected in the schools, from cockroaches, rats, dust mites, and cat and dog dander, but at lower levels, and only mouse allergens levels were linked to the severity of students’ asthma symptoms.
Asthma is a serious problem. Over 6 million children, or 15% of children in the U.S., have asthma, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Previously, a lot of studies looked at allergen levels in homes, but since children spend so much time in school, exposure there is also important. Previous studies have found mouse allergens in 95% of the homes tested. This means that children are exposed to mouse allergens for part of the day in schools, and then continue to be exposed at home.
Cleaning removes allergens, but not all of them. That is why it is so important to not allow pests like mice and cockroaches to become problems in the first place. Prevention is the key.