Global Institute for Hispanic Health articles examine air pollution, asthma patients

A joint project between Driscoll Children’s Hospital and Texas A&M University Health Science Center (Texas A&M Health) is helping South Texas understand the connection between air pollution and children with asthma.

The Texas A&M Health and Driscoll Children’s Hospital Global Institute for Hispanic Health (GIHH) awarded grant funding in 2018 to four research teams in its inaugural Clinical Research Seed Grant program. The program provides research seed funding for clinical, translational and health services research projects primarily aimed at eliminating healthcare disparities in Hispanic communities.

One of the teams of researchers has recently published two articles in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Both manuscripts come from work funded by the GIHH Seed Grant. Lead investigators from each institution include Genny Carrillo, MD, director of the Program on Asthma Research and Education at Texas A&M Health, and Jon Roberts, MD, pediatric pulmonologist at Driscoll Children’s Hospital.

The first article, “Association between Ambient Air Pollution and Hospital Length of Stay among Children with Asthma in South Texas,” was published in May 2020 and the second, “Effect of Ambient Air Pollution on Hospital Readmissions among the Pediatric Asthma Patient Population in South Texas: A Case-Crossover Study,” was published in July 2020.

Both studies found that air pollution levels were significantly associated with prolonged length of hospital stay and hospital readmissions.

“Asthma is unique in that it is a genetic disease that is affected by changes in the environment. This research is important because it looks at an asthma trigger close to home – air pollution. The studies specifically looked at certain types of air pollution in South Texas, and how they impact asthma disease in our hospital and in our community. I am proud to be a part of this wonderful collaboration with Texas A&M, which goes to show what can be accomplished by putting great institutions (and minds) together,” Roberts said.

“The Seed Grant Program is intended to jump-start collaborative efforts between Texas A&M Health and Driscoll Children’s Hospital to research some of the toughest health problems for children in our region. Once a community understands a problem, we can start doing something about it to change outcomes. Ultimately, this work is about making sure that every child has the best chance possible to grow up healthy,” said Erin Richmond, program manager of GIHH.