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City kids with asthma could see relief with Omalizumab

by Aimee Keenan-Greene

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine may offer hope to inner-city kids with asthma.

Researchers studied inner-city children, adolescents, and young adults with persistent asthma for 60 weeks in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial at multiple centers to assess the effectiveness of Omalizumab when added to guidelines-based therapy. 

Among the 419 participants, 73 percent had moderate or severe asthma.

Omalizumab,  when compared with the placebo, significantly reduced the number of days with asthma symptoms, from 1.96 to 1.48 days per 2-week interval.

Scientists say that's a a 24.5 percent decrease (P<0.001). 

Omalizumab also reduced the number of kids who had one or more seasonal peaks in exacerbations from 48.8 to 30.3 percent (P<0.001). 

Improvements occurred with Omalizumab despite reductions in the use of other medications used to control asthma, like inhaled glucocorticoids and long-acting beta-agonists, researchers said. 

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's Rhode Island chapter, allergic asthma, the most common form of asthma, affects more than half of the 20 million Americans with asthma.

Over 2.5 million children under age 18 suffer from allergic asthma.

Symptoms can be triggered by things like dust and pollen, inflaming airways causing coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

Rhode Island requires that all public and private schools have a comprehensive school health program approved by the state, and entitles any student with a chronic disease to have an individual health care plan and emergency care plan.  A 2007 law mandates procedures schools must follow if a student is identified with a peanut or tree nut allergy. Rhode Island is one of the few states that provides smoking cessation programs for all school personnel and promotes air quality with school bus anti-idling prohibitions and diesel engine retrofitting.