Asthma is an inflammation of the lungs that has a high prevalence among urban children. Epidemiological studies have noted a correlation between community violence and asthma. Communities with more violent crime have larger numbers of asthma cases among children. What causes this correlation? One hypothesis is a physiologic response to violence by an undetermined mechanism. Another hypothesis involves cockroaches.
As noted in a previous post, exposure to cockroach allergens is the number one cause of asthma in urban children. Exposure to the cockroach allergens increases as children spend more time indoors in cockroach infested living quarters. As the level of violence increases in a neighborhood, children spend less time outside and more time indoors. The greater time spent indoors produces higher levels of exposure to the cockroach allergens. Efforts to remove cockroach allergens from living space has a greater effect on children from violent neighborhoods than children from less violent neighborhoods. This interaction is evidence that cockroach allergens are the link between violence in neighborhoods and increases in asthma.