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Extramural Research

Johns Hopkins Center for Childhood Asthma in the Urban Environment (2003-2010)

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Johns Hopkins Childrens Center

Center Director: Patrick Breysse

Project 1: The Epidemiology of Susceptibility to Airborne Particulates and Allergens to Asthma in African Americans

Project 2: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Behavior Changes in Home Exposure Control

Project 3: Mechanisms of Particulate-Induced Allergic Asthma

Project 4: Dendritic Cell Activation by Particulate Matter and Allergen


Overview

The long term goals of the Center for Childhood Asthma in the Urban Environment are to examine how exposures to environmental pollutants and allergens may relate to airway inflammation and respiratory illness and death in children with asthma living in the inner city of Baltimore, and to search for new ways to reduce asthma morbidity by reducing exposure to these agents.

Environmental Exposures and Health Outcomes

Primary Environmental Exposures: Urban indoor air pollutants (including particulate matter [PM], ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and airborne allergens) and allergens in settled dust (including mouse, dust mite, cockroach, dog, and cat).
Primary Health Outcomes: Asthma, airway inflammation and respiratory disease in children.

Research Projects

Project 1: The Epidemiology of Susceptibility to Airborne Particulates and Allergens to Asthma in African Americans
The first project is a community-based epidemiologic study of 400 children, ages 6-12, and their homes to identify relevant airborne exposures and to examine genetic determinants of asthma morbidity resulting from these exposures. Exposure to common home indoor pollutants and allergens are similar for inner city pre-school children with and without asthma. While these exposures may exacerbate existing asthma, it does not seem to actually cause childhood asthma.

Project 2: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Behavior Changes in Home Exposure Control
The second project is a community-based participatory research project that is a randomized controlled clinical trial of 120 children of the effectiveness of behavioral methods to reduce pollutant and allergen exposures and their adverse health effects. Use of portable air cleaners in households with smokers has been suggested to improve indoor air quality and health for other household members exposed to second hand smoke (SHS). Using air cleaners in homes of children with asthma helped reduce the amount of particulate matter in the air and led to a modest increase in symptom free days. Implementing a smoke-free home policy is the only justifiable practice to be recommended for children with asthma residing in homes with a smoker to prevent exposure to SHS.

Project 3: Mechanisms of Particulate-Induced Allergic Asthma
The third project examines the mechanisms by which particulate matter may exacerbate an allergen-driven response in the airways. To determine the relationship between exposure to airborne indoor PM and asthma morbidity, a comparison was made of the biological effects of PM collected in homes of children with mild and severe asthma, stratified for the presence of smokers in the home, using the development of asthma symptoms in mice as a readout system.

Project 4: Dendritic Cell Activation by Particulate Matter and Allergen
The fourth project will examine the effects of environmental particulates on the development of the immune system in a fetus. The hypothesis was that the immune system could react in such a way as to make children more vulnerable to allergies and related respiratory problems as they grow.

Community Partners

The Johns Hopkins Children's Center works closely with its Community Advisory Committee, which includes community members from the Baltimore school system, community-based research and service organizations, local churches and families of asthmatic children.

Publications

Publications: (2003-2010)

Centers Funded By:
Centers Funded by Epa and NIEHS

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