In a new study by the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, researchers found that children of immigrant parents are more likely to be exposed to environmental risk factor leading to asthma and atopy- an allergic hypersensitivity reaction.
The authors used community health workers to conduct 250 household surveys of recently immigrated Mexican families including 574 children. Households consisted of at least one foreign born parent, used Spanish as the primary language, and had at least one child. Data collection was done between November 2005 and August 2007, during which time community health workers conducted Spanish surveys and obtained blood lead samples, while inspectors analyzed household conditions and took environmental samples.
The authors found that over 35% of homes were overcrowded and 54% of households had incomes of less than $20,000 a year. Adequate ventilation was found in only 28% of homes while mold and pests were found in 44% and 28% of homes respectively. When the authors performed an exploratory analysis to find the relationship between housing conditions and symptoms of asthma and atopy, they found that the prevalence of wheezing symptoms increased with decreased ventilation. Atopy symptoms were noted in 15.5% of children living in homes with minimal to no ventilation. Household pests also contributed to children’s health as wheezing symptoms were more evident (8.1%) among children living in households with pests than children living in households without pests (2.3%).
The authors noted that children of recent immigrants may be less likely to access medical care and go undiagnosed. Authors suggested that solutions include household-level improvements and access to health care by partnering with public health organizations and clinics to raise awareness of housing and child health needs.