Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Christine Stauber, Ph.D., M.S. - Chair

Second Advisor

Frances McCarty, Ph.D., M.Ed.

Third Advisor

Ginger Chew, Sc.D., M.S.


INTRODUCTION: Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States, affecting the quality of life of at least 20 million Americans. Almost half of the affected (approximately 9.5 million) are children under the age of 18. While Hispanics overall (5.4%) had lower asthma prevalence compared to non-Hispanics (7.4%), those of Puerto Rican descent (14.5%) have a higher burden of asthma than those of Mexican descent (3.9%). AIM: The purpose of this study was to use data collected from a cohort of Puerto Rican infants born in New York City to examine associations between indoor pesticides use and wheeze and asthma in the first two years of life. The data were collected in a prospective birth cohort of Puerto Rican children born to mothers with a history of allergy or asthma. METHODS: Data analysis was conducted using SAS. Descriptive statistics were calculated and reported as percentages. Bivariate statistics were carried out to test independent associations. Logistic regression models for asthma and wheeze at each time point and generalized estimating equation (GEE) models (for wheeze at the end of the study period) were then created with adjustment of potential confounders. RESULTS: After controlling for confounders, no forms of pesticides were associated with wheeze using logistic regression and GEE. However, use of rodenticides at baseline yielded a hazardous relationship with asthma at two years of age (OR = 3.64, 95% CI = 1.26 - 10.52). DISCUSSION: The strong association with exposure to rodenticides at baseline reveals the importance of early life exposures, specifically those that occur prenatally or perinatally. Because rodenticide exposures have not been specifically identified as a possible risk factor in previous scientific literature, it is difficult to ascertain the mechanism behind exposure and asthma onset. Findings from this study and previous studies indicate that more research is needed to further elucidate the role of pesticides and physiological processes, specifically lung and immune system development, in children, especially those in highly allergenic environments.