Pharmacy Times

Asthma & Allergy Watch

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Rates of Psychological Distress Twice as High for Individuals With Asthma
Individuals with asthma are more than twice as likely to exhibit signs of depression or anxiety as individuals who do not suffer from this chronic disease, according to a report published in the March 2010 issue of Chest. “Asthma and Serious Psychological Distress: Prevalence and Risk Factors Among US Adults, 2001-2007” suggests the importance of mental health screening for individuals with asthma and the need for clinical and community-based interventions to target modifiable lifestyle factors. The study’s senior author, David Callahan, MD, a medical epidemiologist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Public Health Service in Atlanta, reported that serious psychological distress was 2.5 times higher among adults with asthma, and as serious psychological distress increased, health-related quality of life went down.

Researchers reviewed data from 186,738 adults who participated in the US National Health Interview Survey 2001 and 2007 and found a 7% rate of asthma. Among study participants, the average rate of serious psychological distress was 3%, while the rate was 7.5% for individuals with asthma.


Asthma Rates in the Rise in the United States
Asthma affects 7.85% of the population, an increase of approximately .5% every 3 years, according to a new government study. The study also found that certain states across the country reported dramatically higher rates than other states. The results of the study were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in March.

The rates for asthma are consistently going up each year, but researchers are grappling with the fact that there are significant differences among states. For example, Rhode Island recorded the highest incidence at 10.68% and Louisiana recorded the lowest incidence at 5.04%. A total of 19 states reported greater increases, with Oklahoma recording a 2.03% increase and Alabama recording a 1.91% increase. Further study is needed to present theories for these disparities as researchers continue to examine this chronic respiratory disease.


Oral Immunotherapy Study Focuses on Egg Allergies in Children Asthma Rates on the Rise in the United States
A study presented at the March American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2010 Annual Meeting examined the safety and efficacy of oral immunotherapy (OIT) for egg allergy in children. Investigators from Duke, Johns Hopkins, Mount Sinai, and National Jewish Health were involved in the study, part of the Consortium of Food Allergy Research, established by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

OIT can induce clinical desensitization in children allergic to eggs, decrease egg immunoglobulin (IgE) levels, and decrease egg-specific basophils. In the study, 55 egg-allergic children between the ages of 5 and 18 years old were randomly assigned to either receive a daily dose of egg white solid OIT or a placebo—with all patients undergoing initial escalation, build-up, and maintenance (at 2000 mg) for a total of 44 weeks. Results showed that 21 of the 40 children who received OIT passed an oral food challenge, whereas none of those who received the placebo did. The OIT group also showed significant decreases in both egg IgE levels and egg percutaneous skin tests compared with the placebo group, as well as a significant reduction in basophil activations.


Possible Stem Cell Therapy for Asthma Revealed
A new study published online in the March 15-19 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicated that stem cells may one day be a viable treatment for people suffering from severe asthma. Researchers at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) investigated stem cell therapy in mice with organ transplantation, where multipotent stem cells in the form of bone marrow transplants were utilized.

Researchers used mice that had been engineered to be allergic to ragweed and injected them with multipotent stem cells, cells that can develop into many different cell types. The mice injected with these had fewer allergy and asthma symptoms when exposed to allergen. NIDCR investigators cautioned that this stem cell therapy, if it reaches patients, will likely be reserved for those who have not responded to other therapies. ■


FAST FACT: In the United States, 16 million people have asthma, and it is the single most common chronic condition among children. One in 7 children— 10.2 million—have asthma, and the number is growing.
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