PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A study conducted by Columbia University researchers reveals neighborhoods where children have a high rate of asthma are twice as likely to have antibodies combating cockroach protein in their blood, meaning they were exposed to the bug and probably allergic.

Dr. John Krouse, the department chair of otolaryngology at Temple University’s School of Medicine, says this situation requires aggressive treatment.

“Cockroaches have been shown to be a very potent antigen to stimulate both upper airway allergies and asthma. And in the last few years, we are recognizing the increasing role of mouse and rat allergies. No matter how clean people are, this is just something that is just very common in our inner city environment and among the patients we see in North Philadelphia.”

Krouse says as mouse droppings decay, the spores become airborne attacking the airway. He understands it can be embarrassing, but it’s important for parents to be honest.

“It’s very hard because you really can’t do any good environmental management to decrease exposure. You really need to rely on medical management,” he said.

Medical management could include antihistamines, inhalers or allergy shots to manage the condition.

Reported by Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio