Researchers at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin will soon embark on a five-year research project to identify and reduce irritants that trigger asthma symptoms in children, particularly minorities, living in the central city.
The project is being funded through a $1.25 million grant from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.
“Research shows that asthma disproportionately affects communities of color with devastating impact,” said Ellen Gilligan, president and CEO of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation in a statement announcing the project. “African Americans have the highest prevalence of asthma, are hospitalized at five times the rate of white patients and are four times more likely to die of asthma. We have the opportunity through this community research project to focus resources where they are needed most. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin brings unique capabilities and expertise in community research to this project that will benefit children in Milwaukee, in our region and throughout Wisconsin.”
The project will dive into genetics, and study connections between children’s genes, the irritants that trigger their asthma symptoms and their bodies’ responses to environmental changes.
GMF and Children’s Hospital leaders said data from the project could influence future research. The goal is to improve quality of life for children and families affected by the disease and lower the cost of treatment.
“I am confident the results of this project will improve the quality of life for families managing asthma by reducing the amount of visits to the emergency room,” said Children’s Hospital President and CEO Peggy Troy. “Less visits mean reduced stress and anxiety worrying about their child’s asthma, not to mention having less medical bills.
Around 12 percent of adults and 11 percent of children in Wisconsin have been diagnosed with asthma and each hospital stay for asthma-related complications costs on average $13,300, according to the GMF and Children’s Hospital.
The grant will come from the GMF’s Russell J. and Betty Jane Shaw Fund, which supports medical research for childhood diseases.