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Transcript: Children and Asthma -- New York City: Columbia Children's Center

TIME: 4:38

DR. FREDERICA PERERA: We’re doing a study in northern Manhattan and the Bronx aimed at understanding early life exposures in the womb and learning about what role they may play later on in that child’s life in terms of asthma and respiratory illness.
To do that, we’re enrolling over 600 pregnant women and we’re monitoring them during pregnancy.  We’re collecting a small air sample using a portable backpack which they keep with them for two days during their pregnancy, and we’re also monitoring the air inside and outside their homes and a sample of dust is taken from the home before the baby is born.
And then at birth we collect, small samples of blood from the mother and from the umbilical cord blood. This blood would otherwise be discarded. And then we do a very careful clinical evaluation of each child, and the child comes in at 6 months, a year, 2 years, 3 years.

DYSHELL BULLOCK:  Both my kids have asthma, and my daughter had asthma since she was a newborn, and she was hospitalized for it.
She stayed in the hospital for a week.
I had my prenatal visits at Harlem Hospital, and I was pregnant with my son when I was introduced to the program. That’s when I met Didi.

DIURKA “DI-DI” DIAZ:  Christopher, come here.

BULLOCK:  She introduced herself to me, and she explained to me that she was in the Mother and Child Newborn Study.

DIAZ:  We asked her a series of questions about her health, her family health, what she was exposed to.
She was a nonsmoker, but perhaps someone in the family was constantly smoking around her.
We also collect a sample of urine to find out if she might have been exposed to lead during pregnancy, and then we go and visit her upon delivery.

BULLOCK:  I know that I have active kids, so I know when they get asthma attacks.
I knew, like, if he starts wheezing, what to do.
I wouldn’t panic. He’s cried a lot. He cried all the time. He always had phlegm in his chest, and basically, I just had to keep him in the house and just every three to six hours put him back on the machine.
They haven’t been getting sick, having colds. They have a little minor cough, but attacks just don’t come up no more.

DR. RACHEL MILLER:  After the baby’s born and the blood sample’s collected, we take it to the laboratory, where we grow these white cells in culture.
We incubate the cells in the presence of cockroach proteins, two different dust mite proteins, mouse proteins. In fact, there is some evidence of these baby cells showing some sort of memory response or an immune response to these proteins in the air that the mother breathes in.

(REFERRING TO TECHNICIAN): She’s isolating white blood cells from a blood specimen.

MILLER:  Patch ... do you see the little patch there, at about one o’clock? Why don’t you go for that, and then you’re done.
We were surprised at how common it was for the cells to respond to the cockroach proteins, for example, which occurred in over half the cases.

DR. JEAN FORD:  It’s well known that cockroach allergen can, in fact, make the airways, the bronchial tubes, sensitive and that cockroach exposures are associated with a more severe form of asthma.

DR. GINGER CHEW:  My main job is to identify which allergens are associated with cockroach allergy and then which exposures are associated with developing the disease of asthma. For the Mothers and Newborns Study, we go into the houses and we collect dust samples.   For instance, this dust sample is collected from a bedroom. 

©  Light-Saraf Films 2002

Centers Funded By:
Centers Funded by Epa and NIEHS

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