Michelle Cullum
Asthmatic Spaces
Annotation 1
James E. Gern
The Urban Environment and Childhood Asthma (URECA) Birth Cohort Study
The URECA birth cohort study was produced by a number of MD’s all coming from different medical schools and research backgrounds from across the U.S. Furthermore, two of the listed doctors are members of the board of allergy and immunology, who provides a pharmaceutical approach to the asthma study. It is key in these particular kinds of studies to have a variety of scientists and researchers from a wide range of backgrounds providing the data to ensure unbiased truthful facts and figures, as is done here. As one can imagine, with such a strong influx of medical knowledge, this study will focus primarily on the medical side of asthma, using things like prescription distribution and emergency room visits to gauge asthma prevalence.
Unlink most asthma studies, the Gern work was the only birth cohort study of its kind here in the U.S. Compared to Europe, however, the United States lacks in this kind of data and is in great need of further studies such as this. Gern’s study focuses on two low-income families, both living in an urban environment. Although this research is unique, it has been placed amongst other low income studies that look at the affects of urban environments on ones immune system. The URECA monitored two-thousand pregnant women and eventually five-hundred children through their first seven years of life, looking for asthma trends and patterns.
Key to this study was the physicians work to establish that lower income households posed a greater determent to children and their lung health. Furthermore, it was the doctor’s goals to expose a greater problem among those living under a low-income status than the wealthy and show a greater disparity. One key negative factor in the study is that the majority of the children grew up in households with at least one smoker in the home. It is common knowledge that smoking is a prime asthma inducer and one that is not exclusive to the lower classes, hence a factor that tarnishes the data. Another detriment to the study remains the hint of politics that runs throughout in the sense that only lower class citizens were considered. Minorities, including African Americans and Latinos, in particular are targeted, portraying a picture of needs and poverty than a portrait of solutions.
On the other hand, this study proposes new factors such as stress and worry and their effects on health and asthma, a topic rarely touched on in other studies. As numerous doctors have noted, a feeling of helplessness can lend itself to further detrimental health choices and thus a greater prevalence of disease and sickness. Although this may seem like a simple topic, the authority that doctors hold help validate such a statement when scrutinized. Overall, this article does little to suggest a cure or treatment options for these lower income families; however, it does provide a new insight on asthma and helps other researchers view asthma in a new way. Subsequently, it is ironic that these well educated medical researchers are presenting data on a group that cannot even afford medical care. It would seem that more should be done to treat asthma, not just expose the already known issue of its prevalence.