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(Health) Asthma: Attacking Asthma

 
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2006 6:51 am    Post subject: (Health) Asthma: Attacking Asthma Reply with quote






Attacking Asthma

Emily Sohn
Science News for Kids
5 April 2006

For the original article (with photos and diagrams):
http://www.sciencenewsforkids......ature1.asp

One minute, you're breathing normally. The next minute, you're coughing, wheezing, and gasping for air. Maybe the trouble started when you stroked a cat. Or maybe it happened when you raced for a soccer ball on a breezy spring day.

If these situations sound familiar, you may be among the growing number of kids with a lung disorder called asthma.

"It's very common for kids to have this," says Andy Liu, a childhood asthma-and-allergy researcher at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver. And, he says, asthma is becoming more and more common.

Between 1980 and 1996, the number of asthma cases doubled in the United States. Today, more than 20 million adults and about 9 million kids have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"When I was a kid, one or two kids in our class had it," Liu says. "Now, five or six kids in a class do."

While the exact reason for the increase remains a mystery, scientists are discovering patterns and zeroing in on explanations. New tests for the disease are in the works. And treatments have improved tremendously.

"We used to think of kids with asthma as being limited," Liu says. "That's changed in the last 15 years. We believe most kids [with asthma] can live normal lives now."

Lung passages

Inside your chest, your lungs are like a tree with hollow branches. These branches serve as airways. When you take a breath, air moves into these branches. It then passes through the thin lining of the lungs and delivers oxygen to your bloodstream.

During an asthma attack, a thick, slippery substance called mucus blocks the lung passages, swelling occurs, and lung muscles squeeze on the airways. Breathing becomes difficult.

Such episodes don't usually happen out of the blue. At least half of the people who suffer from asthma have allergies that can trigger an attack, says Sam Arbes. He's an epidemiologist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Allergies occur when your immune system, which is designed to protect your body against infection and disease, overreacts to cat hair, mold, pollen, dust, or other foreign substances. Such substances are called allergens.

Some people merely sneeze and sniffle when they're exposed to certain allergens. People with asthma have a much stronger reaction. In some cases, they end up in the hospital.

To figure out whether an increase in allergens is responsible for the increase in asthma, Arbes and his colleagues recently collected dust from 831 homes throughout the United States.

"We found cat and dog allergens in every home we sampled—even in homes that didn't have cats or dogs," Arbes says. "A lot of homes had levels high enough to cause allergies and asthma in people."

Pollutant triggers

There's more to the story than Fluffy's or Fido's hair, however. Scientists know that for some people with asthma, the disorder has nothing to do with allergies. Asthma triggers can include, for example, exercise, cigarette smoke, perfumes, and cooking odors.

Scientists are, however, pretty confident that allergies do make asthma worse, Arbes says. But, he adds, "we don't know if exposure [to allergens] is what actually causes people to get asthma in the first place."

To understand better why only certain people develop the disease, scientists are gathering information about the types of allergens that people are exposed to at home and about the types of allergies that they have. The work is part of a huge, long-term study called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

The study isn't complete, but scientists have already identified some patterns. Kids living on farms get asthma less often than kids in cities do. Preschoolers in day care are less likely to have asthma than toddlers who stay home. And kids with older brothers and sisters have less asthma than kids who grow up alone.

Based on these trends, a theory called the "hygiene hypothesis" is gaining ground. The idea is that kids today encounter fewer types of bacteria than their parents did. That's because they spend more time inside, use more antibacterial soaps, and take more antibiotic medicines.

As a result, the part of their immune systems that's designed to fight infection doesn't have enough to do, Arbes says. The part that's involved in allergies takes over.

"The immune system gets fired up to fight allergens rather than pathogens or bacteria," he says.

Better care

Figuring out what causes asthma might help researchers find ways to prevent it. Eventually, they hope to find a cure. Until then, doctors are working on managing the condition. And they're getting pretty good at that, Liu says.

Identifying and avoiding asthma triggers is one good preventive strategy. Medications can help manage the disease. Taken through inhalers, these medicines relax the lung muscles and bring immediate relief.

Meanwhile, a new test is coming that can diagnose asthma by sampling a person's breath, Liu says. The test could lead to earlier diagnoses and better care.

"A lot of kids limit their activities because of asthma," Liu says. "It doesn't have to be that way."

"If you have asthma, you should expect your life to be normal," he adds. "You should be able to have minimal symptoms. You should be able to pick the sport of your choice and play at the level you want to."

Have any doubts? Just look at football player Jerome "The Bus" Bettis of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Asthma hasn't stopped him from being a great athlete.

*************************************************************

Questions to explore further this topic:

What is asthma?

http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....pter2.aspx
http://www.asthma-kids.ca/about/
http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....index.aspx
http://www.healthsystem.virgin.....a/home.cfm
http://www.lung.ca/diseases-ma.....ndex_e.php
http://www.lungusa.org/site/pp.....mp;b=33276
http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/basics.htm

What are the signs and symptoms of asthma?

http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....pter5.aspx
http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....index.aspx

What makes asthma worse?

http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....pter6.aspx
http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....index.aspx

Are there different types of asthma?

http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....index.aspx

How is asthma related to other conditions?

http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....index.aspx

How is asthma treated?

http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....ter10.aspx
http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....ter11.aspx
http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....ter12.aspx

Quick relief medications
http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....index.aspx

Long term control medications
http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....index.aspx

Devices for medication
http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....index.aspx

Guidelines for diagnosis and management of asthma
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guide...../index.htm

Managing medication
http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....-meds.aspx

What can kids with asthma do?

http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....ter16.aspx
http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....index.aspx

Asthma and environment

http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....index.aspx

Asthma, exercise, nutrition and prevention

http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....index.aspx

Asthma at work, school and play

http://www.nationaljewish.org/.....index.aspx

What causes asthma?

http://www.healthinsite.gov.au....._of_Asthma
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/healt.....auses.html

GAMES

http://www.asthma-kids.ca/games/
http://www.kickasthma.org.uk/k.....item_id=17


Last edited by adedios on Sat Jan 27, 2007 4:41 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 5:43 pm    Post subject: Children living near major roads face higher asthma risk Reply with quote

University of Southern California

Children living near major roads face higher asthma risk
LOS ANGELES, May 1, 2006 - Young children who live near a major road are significantly more likely to have asthma than children who live only blocks away, according to a study that appears in the May 1 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives.
The study found that children living within 75 meters (about 82 yards) of a major road had a 50 percent greater risk of having had asthma symptoms in the past year than were children who lived more than 300 meters (about 328 yards) away. Higher traffic volumes on the different roads were also related to increased rates of asthma.

"These findings are consistent with an emerging body of evidence that local traffic around homes and schools may be causing an increase in asthma," says lead author Rob McConnell, M.D., professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. "This is a potentially important public health problem because many children live near major roads."

More than 5,000 children ages 5 to 7 were involved in the study which was an expansion of the Children's Health Study, currently underway in 13 southern California communities. The researchers determined how far each participating child lived from a major road - a freeway, large highway or a feeder road to a highway.

"These results suggest that living in residential areas with high traffic-related pollution significantly increases the risk of childhood asthma," says David A. Schwartz, M.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the primary agency that funded the study. "Children with no parental history of asthma who had long-term exposure or early-life exposure to these pollutants were among the most susceptible."

Children who lived at the same residence since age 2 had slightly higher rates of asthma than those who had moved to the residence later. "That is what you would expect if the asthma was being caused by traffic," McConnell says. Risk for wheeze also decreased the further away a home was from a major road, dropping to background rates at roughly 150 meters (not quite two blocks).

Study sites included the cities of Alpine, Anaheim, Glendora, Lake Arrowhead, Lake Elsinore, Long Beach, Mira Loma, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Dimas, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Upland. McConnell noted that air pollution regulations typically focus on regional air pollutants rather than localized exposures within communities, such as living near a busy road, that may also be a problem. "We've taken some tentative steps to address that, for example with a law that a new school can't be built within 500 feet of a freeway. But we have to also consider whether building parks, play areas, or homes right next to a major road is a wise land use decision in terms of health."

McConnell and his colleagues plan to follow up with a subgroup of the children to measure pollutants in their homes and also to look at characteristics that may make children more susceptible (or that may be protective), such as genetic characteristics.


###
This study was supported by the NIEHS, California Air Resources Board, the Southern California Particle Center and Supersite, the Environmental Protection Agency, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, and the Hastings Foundation.

Rob McConnell, Kiros Berhane, Ling Yao, Michael Jerrett, Fred Lurmann, Frank Gilliland, Nino Kunzli, Jim Gauderman, Ed Avol, Duncan Thomas and John Peters, "Traffic, Susceptibility and Childhood Asthma," Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 114, Number 5, May 2006.
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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 6:06 pm    Post subject: UCSF study:whether probiotics can prevent asthma in children Reply with quote

University of California - San Francisco
15 May 2006

UCSF study to examine whether probiotics can prevent asthma in children

In the first effort of its kind in the United States, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have launched a study to determine whether giving active probiotic supplements to infants can delay or prevent asthma in children.
The intervention is a novel method for the primary prevention of asthma with enormous potential to have a public health impact, said Michael Cabana, MD, chief of the Department of General Pediatrics at UCSF Children's Hospital and principal investigator for the study. There currently are no known ways to prevent asthma, he said.

"It would be a great thing to be able to prevent asthma," Cabana said. "We believe that using probiotics is a safe and effective way to do that."

Probiotics are defined as micro-organisms administered in adequate amounts to confer beneficial health effects. They typically are chosen from bacteria that normally inhabit the gastrointestinal system and are therefore known to be safe.

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood and the most common cause of school absenteeism. Asthma is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes that causes airway obstruction, chest tightness, coughing and wheezing.

Called the Trial of Infant Probiotic Supplementation to Prevent Asthma, or TIPS, the study is based on the "hygiene hypothesis," which says that little or no exposure to bacteria and viruses during a critical period of infancy can lead to an imbalance in the immune system and result in diseases such as asthma, especially in high-risk groups, like children with parents who have asthma.

The study seeks to determine whether stimulating the immune system by giving an active probiotic supplement, Lactobacillus GG, can prevent or delay the appearance of early signs of asthma, such as wheezing, frequent runny nose, and eczema. Lactobacillus GG is a common bacterium found in yogurt and many other foods and often is given to treat diarrhea.

The three-year study will include about 280 healthy full-term babies with either a mother or a father with asthma, because parents with asthma are more likely to have children with asthma. During the first six months of life, half of the infants will receive a once-daily dose of active Lactobacillus GG and half will receive a placebo.

The babies will be followed for three years, with six follow-up visits at UCSF Children's Hospital or an outpatient center starting at one month old. Researchers will analyze the data from the visits to see if the active supplements prevented or delayed the appearance of the early signs of asthma.

Cabana said a similar study conducted in Finland found that administration of Lactobacillus to infants delayed or prevented the onset of eczema.

According to the American Lung Association, an estimated 4 million children under 18 years old have had an asthma attack in the past 12 months, and many others have "hidden" or undiagnosed asthma.

Other study co-investigators include Joan Hilton, ScD; Cewin Chao, MS, RD, MBA; Homer Boushey, MD; Lawrence Fong, MD, PhD; and Aaron Brandon Caughey, MD, MPP, MPH, all of UCSF.


###
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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 7:50 am    Post subject: Spacers have advantages over nebulizers for childhood asthma Reply with quote

Center for the Advancement of Health
23 May 2006

Spacers have advantages over nebulizers for childhood asthma

Two treatment methods for asthma attacks -- spacers and nebulizers -- are equally effective in staving off hospital admissions, a new review shows. However, at least for children, spacers mean shorter stays in emergency departments.
The review authors, led by Christopher Cates, M.D., of the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Canada, analyzed information from 25 studies of 2,066 children ages 2 years and older, and 614 adults with asthma. All used either spacers or nebulizers to deliver beta-2 agonists, medications that help "open" the lungs to ease breathing in asthma attacks.

The review appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

A spacer is a holding chamber attached to devices for inhaling asthma medication. A nebulizer is an electrically powered machine that turns liquid medication into a mist breathed directly into the lungs through a face mask or mouthpiece. Nebulizers are the traditional method for treating asthma attacks, and are still used more often in hospitals.

The authors found that spacers and nebulizers work equally well for treating non–life-threatening asthma attacks, in terms of need for inpatient admission and the number of days in the hospital.

However, emergency room visits were almost one half-hour shorter for children who took their medication by spacers, and these children experienced fewer side effects, lower pulse rates and better oxygen delivery.

These advantages, along with "greater ease of use of spacers, together with hospital admission rates with spacers that are at best 60 percent lower than nebulizers and at worst 6 percent higher" make the newer treatment "the recommended option for children," Cates said. He added that "nebulizers need a power supply, are less portable, require maintenance and are more difficult to clean than spacers."

Carlos Camargo, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health, cautioned that the study results "apply to beta-agonist delivery only and not other agents, for example, inhaled corticosteroids." As for the most severely affected patients, "there are insufficient data on severe exacerbation to generalize to that high-risk group," Camargo said.

The authors conclude that the emergency- room results need to be replicated in a community setting. In the meantime, Cates said, the issue is "how to help people change practice from the familiar nebulization to using a spacer." He said that proper titration -- adjusting medication dose and timing according to symptoms -- is still "the key issue, whichever delivery method is used." An estimated 6.2 million U.S. children under age 18 years of age have asthma and 4 million of these had an asthma attack or episode in 2003, according to the American Lung Association. Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization in children under 15.

"For adults seen and assessed for acute asthma, this review found no significant differences between the two delivery methods," the authors write. "Consequently, the choice of delivery method should reflect patient preference, practice situations and formal economic evaluation."
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:13 am    Post subject: Exposure to sunlight could reduce asthma Reply with quote

Research Australia
25 October 2006

Exposure to sunlight could reduce asthma

Perth medical research team sheds new light on chronic health condition
Australian researchers have found that exposure to measured doses of ultraviolet light, such as sunlight, could reduce asthma.

The research team at Perth's Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, through funding provided by the Asthma Foundation of WA, studied the effect of ultraviolet light on the development of asthma-like symptoms in mice, such as inflamed airways and lungs.

The study found:

Exposure to ultraviolet light for 15 to 30 minutes before allergen exposure significantly reduces the development of asthma-like symptoms

This UV exposure produces a cell type that, when transferred into other mice before they're sensitised to an allergen, can prevent the development of some of the asthma-like symptoms.

Associate Professor Prue Hart, leader of the research team, which includes Dr Debra Turner, Dr Shelley Gorman and PhD student Jacqueline McGlade, is excited by the ground-breaking results and possible future applications.

"This research clearly shows that controlled exposure to ultraviolet light markedly limits the development, incidence and severity of asthma symptoms in mice," said Associate Professor Hart.

"It appears that sunlight can suppress specific immune reactions, so we are now working to better understand that mechanism with the aim of generating new ways to prevent and treat this chronic disease.

"Given that overexposure to sunlight can cause skin cancer, it is important that we isolate and separate out the beneficial elements of ultraviolet light if we are to develop a safe and effective asthma therapy."

The Asthma Foundation of WA is committed to finding a cure for the condition and annually provides over $200,000 in research grants. Since 1968 the Foundation has donated more than $3m, helping establish Western Australia as an internationally recognised leader in this field.

John Shave, CEO of the Asthma Foundation of WA, comments: "The Asthma Foundation and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research have a long and close association, and we are both very proud of what researchers in this State have achieved over the years.

"This research, together with other research funded by the Asthma Foundation of WA, has the potential to significantly improve the lives of people with asthma not only in Australia, but around the world."

The Asthma Foundation of WA and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research expect that the asthma and ultraviolet light study will take several years to complete.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2007 7:58 am    Post subject: Study indicates different treatment may be needed for infect Reply with quote

Public release date: 31-Jan-2007

UT Southwestern Medical Center

Study indicates different treatment may be needed for infection-related breathing problems

DALLAS – Jan. 31, 2007 – New research suggests that different treatments may be needed for chronic asthma, depending on whether it results from allergies or lung infections.

Previous studies have shown that certain lung infections such as Mycoplasma pneumoniae can linger on and contribute to a person later experiencing symptoms of asthma.

Researchers have now identified a particular gene that influences how severe a M. pneumoniae infection may be, which in turn suggests that a different strategy might be needed for treating asthma resulting from this and similar lung infections rather than allergies.

"What this shows is that infectious asthma might have a different mechanism than allergic asthma. Most people think asthma is asthma, but it may be multifaceted," said Dr. Robert Hardy, an infectious disease specialist at UT Southwestern.

That's an important implication because the latest statistics show that asthma is on the rise. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more than 20 million Americans currently have asthma and another 10 million have been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their life. Roughly 6.5 million American children, or nearly 9 percent of the nation's pre-adult population, have asthma, figures released in December show.

Dr. Hardy, an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics, has been using mice to study how certain pneumonia bacteria contribute to chronic asthma and, in this latest study, identified how a particular gene may contribute to more severe lung infection. The research appears in the January edition of Infection and Immunity.

Pneumonia is a lung infection typically characterized by breathing difficulties and spread by coughing and sneezing. Symptoms often include headache, fever, chills, coughs, chest pains, sore throat and nausea. Dr. Hardy's research involves pneumonia caused by the bacterium M. pneumoniae, commonly called walking pneumonia, a typically less severe form of the disease that accounts for 20 percent to 30 percent of community-acquired pneumonia.

To investigate the mechanism by which M. pneumoniae causes lung disease and respiratory difficulties, the UT Southwestern researchers inoculated two different types of mice with this bacterium. The study contrasted the reaction of one normal group of mice with another group lacking a particular gene called IL-12, which is involved in immune response. The mice engineered without the gene showed significantly less lung inflammation than the mice that naturally had the gene, with some indicators showing seven times less inflammation.

"M. pneumoniae might be more of a cofactor in developing chronic asthma than a direct cause, similar to how high cholesterol or diabetes makes people more vulnerable to heart attacks," Dr. Hardy said, pointing to a number of previous studies. "It's probably not the only thing, but it's one of them. In some people it might incite asthma or it might exacerbate it."

Because the M. pneumoniae bacterium is difficult to kill and often remains in the lungs even after antibiotic treatment and the symptoms fade, Dr. Hardy said, it is important to find better treatments to prevent it from lingering.


###
Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study were Dr. George McCracken, professor and chief of pediatric infectious diseases; Dr. Ana Gomez, assistant professor of pathology; Drs. Christine Salvatore, Asuncion Mejias and Cynthia Somers, pediatrics postdoctoral trainees; Kathy Katz-Gaynor, pediatrics research associate; and Monica Fonseca-Aten and Susanna Chavez-Bueno, former pediatric postdoctoral trainees.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern Medical Center, one of the premier medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. Its more than 1,400 full-time faculty members – including four active Nobel Prize winners, more than any other medical school in the world – are responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and are committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to nearly 89,000 hospitalized patients and oversee 2.1 million outpatient visits a year.

This news release is available on our World Wide Web home page at http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/home/news/index.html

To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via e-mail, subscribe at http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/receivenews

Dr. Robert Hardy - http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/.....93,00.html
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 8:28 am    Post subject: Asthma incidence shows a 50 percent increase in fat people Reply with quote

American Thoracic Society
2 April 2007

Asthma incidence shows a 50 percent increase in fat people

For overweight and obese individuals, the incidence of asthma increases by 50 percent, as compared to those of normal weight, according to a meta-analysis of seven studies on severe asthma involving 333,102 patients.

The results appear in the first issue for April 2007 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

E. Rand Sutherland, M.D., M.P.H., of the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, and one associate found a dose-dependent increase in the odds for asthma in overweight and obese men and women. Based on their results, the researchers suggest that asthma incidence could by reduced by targeted interventions against being overweight or obese.

According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1999-2002), 65 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese. "Although asthma is less prevalent than obesity, it affects approximately 7 percent of the adult population in the United States," said Dr. Sutherland, who noted that the odds of asthma incidence in overweight men and women were similar.

Asthma, a respiratory disease characterized by recurrent episodes of difficult breathing, wheezing, cough and thick mucus production, affected approximately 20.5 million Americans in 2004. Some common asthma triggers are allergic stimuli, infections, stress or strenuous exercise.

"If significant weight loss could be achieved in the population of overweight and obese individuals, it could be estimated that the number of new asthma cases in United States adults might fall by as much as 250,000 per year," said Dr. Sutherland. "If that decrease can be extrapolated to the pediatric population, where the annual incidence of asthma is as much as five times higher, the effect of even small changes in mean population body mass index may translate into significant decreases in asthma incidence in children and adults."

The researchers noted that obesity in the absence of asthma causes physiologic impairments in lung function, including reduction in lung volume, chest wall restriction and an increase in the oxygen cost of breathing. It also contributes to various other conditions including gastroesophageal reflux and sleep apnea. These difficulties can result in breathlessness (dyspnea) and wheezing, which might be mistaken for asthma by patients and clinicians.

"Weight loss studies have shown improvements in lung function and asthma symptoms, but not necessarily in airflow obstruction or airway hyperresponsiveness," said Dr. Sutherland. "It is also reasonable to believe that some of the patients with ‘asthma’ may have respiratory symptoms due to obesity but may not meet rigorous objective physiologic criteria for asthma."

The authors concluded that obesity is a well-established risk factor for diabetes, sleep apnea, stroke, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and other illnesses. They said their findings support the addition of asthma to that list.
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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2007 8:51 am    Post subject: Research Demonstrates Link Between Domestic Violence and Ast Reply with quote

Research Demonstrates Link Between Domestic Violence and Asthma
Harvard School of Public Health
Asthma Risk Raised for Victims and for Other Household Members

For immediate release: May 1, 2007

Boston, MA - The link between environmental exposures and asthma has been clearly described, but a new study from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) finds a strong association between domestic violence and asthma. The study, in the upcoming June issue of the International Journal of Epidemiology, (published advance online Feb. 28, 2007) raises questions about the role of stress in the development of this common respiratory condition.

"Classic environmental triggers for asthma have been carefully studied, but there is less information on the role of stress in asthma episodes," says lead researcher S.V. Subramanian, Assistant Professor in the Department of Society, Human Development and Health at HSPH. "The risk posed by domestic violence - and perhaps other psychosocial factors - could be as high as some well known environmental risk factors such as smoking."

The authors performed their research using a large nationally representative database of 92,000 households in India, where domestic violence is highly prevalent. Each respondent was surveyed in a face-to-face interview in one of 18 Indian languages. Respondents were asked if anyone in the household suffered from asthma, and were also asked about a personal history of experiencing or witnessing domestic violence. Researchers also accounted for many other factors that have been associated with asthma, including exposure to tobacco smoke and level of education and income.

The study found that women who had experienced domestic violence in the past year had a 37 percent increased risk of asthma. For women who had not experienced domestic violence themselves but lived in a household where a woman had been beaten in the past year, there was a 21 percent increased risk of asthma than for women who did not live in such households. In addition, living in a household where a woman experienced domestic violence also increased the risk of reported asthma in children and adult men.

While the authors caution that the study cannot prove a causal link between domestic violence and asthma, there are several possible mechanisms to explain such a strong relationship between the two. Exposure to violence, and other major psychosocial stressors, is known to affect the immune system and inflammation, which have a role in asthma development. In addition, those exposed to violence may adopt certain ‘coping' behaviors that predispose them to asthma, such as cigarette smoking.

This study is the first to examine the relationship between violence and asthma in India, where domestic violence is at relatively high levels, and where the World Health Organization estimates 15-20 million asthmatics live. Subramanian adds, "Our study suggests a new method for identifying stress-induced episodes and also reveals another terrible health risk of domestic violence."

Other authors on the study were HSPH graduate students Leland Ackerson and Malavika Subramanyam; and Rosalind Wright, HMS assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

For more information, contact:

Robin Herman

rherman@hsph.harvard.edu

617-432-4752

###

Harvard School of Public Health is dedicated to advancing the public's health through learning, discovery, and communication. More than 300 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 900-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children's health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights. For more information on the school visit: www.hsph.harvard.edu
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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 11:40 am    Post subject: Coarse particulate matter in air may harm hearts of asthma s Reply with quote

May 9, 2007
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Coarse particulate matter in air may harm hearts of asthma sufferers, UNC study finds

CHAPEL HILL – Breathing air containing coarse particulate matter such as road or construction dust may cause heart problems for asthma sufferers and other vulnerable populations, according to a new study led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health.

The researchers found that in people with asthma, a small increase in coarse particulate matter in outdoor air raised bad cholesterol and increased the count of inflammation-linked white blood cells, among other changes.

“This research was all done with study participants just being outside and breathing outdoor air,” said Dr. Karin Yeatts, research assistant professor of epidemiology at the UNC School of Public Health, a member of the UNC Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology, and the study’s principal investigator. “Our results indicate that susceptible people really need to pay attention to air pollution warnings and stay inside when the air pollution is bad. This is particularly the case for people with asthma.”

The study, published in the May 2007 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, was a collaboration by researchers from the School of Public Health, the School of Medicine’s Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The team found that when adult asthma sufferers were exposed to a one microgram per cubic meter increase in coarse particulate matter in ambient air their triglyceride levels increased by nearly five percent. Elevated levels of triglycerides have been shown to increase one’s risk of coronary heart disease. The amount of eosinophils in study participants’ blood also increased by 0.16 percent after exposure to the higher levels of coarse particulate matter. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell created by the human body to fight infections, allergies and diseases like asthma among other things. Finally, the same increase in coarse particulate matter resulted in a three percent decrease in a measure of heart rate variability, the variation of the beat-to-beat intervals of the heart. A healthy heart has wide heart rate variability, while decreased variability can indicate stress or cardiac disease.

Surprisingly, there was no relationship between coarse particulate matter and rescue medication use, asthma symptoms, lung function or airway inflammatory markers, Yeatts said. However, 10 of the 12 adult asthmatics in the study were taking anti-inflammatory controller medication for their disease, and nine of the 12 had mild disease. It is possible that anti-inflammatory treatment mitigated the effects in their airways, or that adults with asthma are less susceptible to the effects of coarse particulate matter.

Study participants consisted of 12 adults between the ages of 21 and 50 with persistent asthma. All lived within a 30-mile radius of the study’s particulate matter monitor, located on the EPA Human Studies Facility at the Carolina campus. Each study participant took part in nine clinic visits: five the first week, and four spaced randomly over the subsequent six to 11 weeks. Data collection took place between September 2003 and July 2004. During the study, outdoor air levels of coarse particulate matter ranged between zero to 14.6 micrograms per cubic meter and did not exceed safety levels set by the EPA of 150 micrograms per cubic meter.

Other study authors include Lawrence Kupper, Alumni Distinguished Professor of biostatistics in the UNC School of Public Health; Dr. David Peden, director of the UNC Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology; Neil Alexis and Margaret Herbst, UNC Center for Environmental Medicine, Asthma and Lung Biology; Erik Svendsen, John Creason, James Scott, Lucas Neas, Robert Devlin and Ronald Williams of the EPA; and Dr. Wayne Cascio of Eastern Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 9:22 am    Post subject: Papworth breathing technique cuts asthma symptoms by a third Reply with quote

BMJ Specialty Journals
2 July 2007

Papworth breathing technique cuts asthma symptoms by a third

A sequence of breathing and relaxation exercises known as the Papworth method has been shown to reduce asthma symptoms by a third by the first randomised controlled trial to investigate the technique, which is published online ahead of print in Thorax.

Eighty five people with mild asthma were randomly assigned to receive either five sessions of treatment by the Papworth method on top of their medical care or to continue to rely on usual drug therapy.

After the sessions had finished, patients’ asthma symptoms were assessed using the St George’s Respiratory Symptom Questionnaire. Patients who had been treated by the Papworth method scored an average of 21.8 on the questionnaire compared with an average score of 32.8 for patients who had not received the treatment.

And this improvement in symptoms was still maintained one year later. At 12 months patients who had been treated using the Papworth method scored 24.9, while patients who had not scored 33.5.

Use of the Papworth method was associated with less depression and anxiety, and symptoms from inappropriate breathing habits were also reduced. The technique improved the relaxed breathing rate but there was no significant improvement in specific measures of lung function.

The authors say: ‘To our knowledge, this is the first evidence from a controlled trial to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Papworth method.

‘The fact that no significant change was observed in objective measures of lung function suggests that five treatments of the Papworth method do not improve the chronic underlying physiological causes of asthma, but rather their manifestation.’

The Papworth method of physical therapy is a series of integrated breathing and relaxation exercises developed in the 1960s. The breathing training involves a specific diaphragmatic breathing technique, emphasises nose breathing and development of a breathing pattern to suit current activity. It is accompanied by relaxation training and education to help people integrate the exercises into their daily lives and recognise the early signs of stress.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 1:18 pm    Post subject: Mold linked to asthma Reply with quote

Cardiff University
5 September 2007

Mold linked to asthma

A Cardiff University study has found that removing indoor mould improves the symptoms of people with asthma.

Asthma UK figures show the prevalence of asthma in Wales is among the highest in the world, with 260,000 people receiving treatment for their asthma with the rate of hospital admissions for adults 12 per cent more than anywhere else in the UK.

Researchers in the School of Medicine asked patients with asthma living in two areas of South Wales if they noticed mould growing inside their houses which was then confirmed by a trained observer. In half of the houses with mould (chosen at random), the mould was removed (using a fungicidal wash to kill any remaining mould) and ventilation was improved by means of a fan in the loft. In the other houses, mould removal was delayed for twelve months.

Dr Michael Burr, School of Medicine’s Department of Primary Care and Public Health said: “In the houses where mould was removed, the symptoms of asthma improved and the use of inhalers decreased more than in the other houses. Removing mould also led to improvements in other symptoms: sneezing, runny or blocked noses, and itchy-watery eyes.

“There was no clear effect on measurements of breathing, but this may have been because patients used their inhalers as needed so that they could always breathe freely.”

Jenny Versnel, Asthma UK’s Executive Director of Research and Policy said: “The publication of this study adds to the increasing bank of research that indoor mould may have a link with asthma, however more work is needed in this area before definitive conclusions can be drawn.

“Research into this area does, however, highlight the importance of keeping your house dry and well ventilated. This can reduce exposure to certain asthma triggers such as mould spores which are found in damp places.”


###
The study was funded by the charity Asthma UK, the Medical Research Council, and the Wales Office of Research and Development. The research is published in the September edition of the medical journal Thorax.

The article referred to is: McHughen, A., Public perception of Biotechnology. Biotechnol. J. 2007, 2, 1105-1111. DOI: 10.1002/biot.200700071

Biotechnology Journal was launched in 2006 by Wiley-VCH in Weinheim, Germany, now part of Wiley-Blackwell. BTJ has become the new international resource for both biotech researchers and professionals in related disciplines. Special attention is given to novel aspects and methods in biotech, as well as healthcare, nutrition and biosafety, but also public, legal, ethical and cultural aspects of biotechnological research. For more information, go to www.biotechnology-journal.com

Wiley-Blackwell was formed in February 2007 as a result of the merger between Blackwell Publishing Ltd. and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.'s Scientific, Technical, and Medical business. Together, the companies have created a global publishing business with deep strength in every major academic and professional field. Wiley-Blackwell publishes approximately 1,250 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal. For more information on Wiley-Blackwell, please visit www.blackwellpublishing.com or http://interscience.wiley.com
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 12:35 pm    Post subject: 'Fruity vegetables' and fish reduce asthma and allergies Reply with quote

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
11 September 2007

'Fruity vegetables' and fish reduce asthma and allergies

Results from 7-year mother and child study just published
Giving children a diet rich in fish and “fruity vegetables” can reduce asthma and allergies, according to a seven-year study of 460 Spanish children, published in the September issue of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology.

The findings also reinforce the researchers’ earlier findings that a fish-rich diet in pregnancy can help to protect children from asthma and allergies.

“We believe that this is the first study that has assessed the impact of a child’s diet on asthma and allergies and also taken into account the food their mother ate during pregnancy” says lead author Dr Leda Chatzi from the Department of Social Medicine at the University of Crete, Greece.

“Because we studied the children from pregnancy to childhood, we were able to include a wide range of elements in our analysis, including maternal diet during pregnancy, breastfeeding, smoking, the mother’s health history, parental education and social class.”

Researchers followed the progress of the children, on the Spanish island of Menorca, at regular intervals from before they were born until they were six-and-a-half.

They discovered that children who consumed more than 40 grams of “fruity vegetables” a day – namely tomatoes, eggplants (aubergines), cucumber, green beans and zucchini (courgettes) - were much less likely to suffer from childhood asthma.

And children who consumed more than 60 grams of fish a day also suffered less childhood allergies, echoing the protective effects they experienced when their mothers ate fish during pregnancy.

However the researchers noted that the dietary effects were quite specific and that other fruits and vegetables examined did not provide the same protective effect. Nor did other food groups included in the study, such as dairy products, meat, poultry and bread.

The mothers of 232 boys and 228 girls, who had been recruited during antenatal classes, completed detailed questionnaires on their children’s health, weight, diet and any breathing problems every year until their child was six-and-a-half.

90 per cent of the children also underwent allergy testing – skin prick tests were used to check their response to the six most common allergens, including grass pollen and cats.

The researchers found that just under nine per cent of the children suffered from some degree of wheezing, including six per cent with an allergy-related wheeze. And 17 per cent reacted to at least one of the allergens in the skin prick test.

“After adjusting the results for a wide range of variables, we concluded that the link between symptom-free children and a diet rich in fruity vegetables and fish was statistically significant” says Dr Chatzi.

“The biological mechanisms that underlie the protective affect of these foods is not fully understood, but we believe that the fruity vegetables and fish reduce the inflammation associated with asthma and allergies.

“The interesting thing about this study is that it followed a large number of children from the womb to the age of six-and-a-half and incorporated a wide range of dietary, social and health factors” says the Journal’s Editor, Professor John Warner, Head of the Department of Paediatrics at Imperial College London.

“It provides parents with specific advice about the health promotion benefits of including fish and fruity vegetables as part of a balanced diet for both their children and the rest of the family.”


###
Notes to editors


Diet, wheeze and atophy in school children in Menorca, Spain. Chatzi et al. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology. 18, pages 480 to 485. (September 2007)


Pediatric Allergy and Immunology publishes original contributions and comprehensive reviews on the understanding and treatment of immune deficiency and allergic inflammatory and infectious diseases in children, the development of specific and accessory immunity and the immunological interaction during pregnancy and lactation between mother and child. It aims to promote communication between scientists engaged in basic research and clinicians working with children and publishes both clinical and experimental work. Edited by Professor John Warner of Imperial College London it is published eight times a year by Wiley-Blackwell. www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/PAI

Wiley-Blackwell was formed in February 2007 as a result of the acquisition of Blackwell Publishing Ltd by John Wiley & Sons, Inc, and the merger between Blackwell and Wiley's Scientific, Technical, and Medical business. Together, the companies have created a global publishing business with deep strength in every major academic and professional field. Wiley-Blackwell publishes approximately 1,250 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 7:47 pm    Post subject: Asthma Linked to Cat Allergies Reply with quote

Asthma Linked to Cat Allergies
By Robin Lloyd, LiveScience Senior Editor

posted: 28 September 2007 01:20 pm ET

More than 50 percent of the current asthma cases in the U.S. are the result of allergies, especially to cats, according to a new National Institutues of Health (NIH) study.

Asthmatics, people with allergies and doctors alike have long debated possible connections between pets, dust, ragweed, mold, fungus, foods, cockroaches, traffic exhaust, smog, pollen, trees blooming, leaves falling ... and wheezing attacks, which can be terrifying and life-threatening.

For the full article:

http://www.livescience.com/hea.....sthma.html
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2007 10:31 am    Post subject: Home Spray Cleaners Could Raise Asthma Risk Reply with quote

Home Spray Cleaners Could Raise Asthma Risk
By Serena Gordon, HealthDay Reporter

posted: 12 October 2007 04:28 pm ET

(HealthDay News) -- Using household cleaning sprays and spray air fresheners just once a week can increase your risk of developing asthma, new research suggests.

Whether or not the cleaning products are a direct cause of asthma, or simply a trigger for people who already have the disease, isn't clear from this epidemiological study.

For the full article:

http://www.livescience.com/healthday/609089.html
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2007 1:28 pm    Post subject: Farm kids have lower risk of asthma, study shows Reply with quote

University of Alberta
16 October 2007

Farm kids have lower risk of asthma, study shows

Farm children appear to have a lower risk of asthma than their urban counterparts or even those living in a non-agricultural rural environment, according to a University of Alberta study.

Analysis of two surveys involving 13,524 asthma–free children aged less than 12 years in the ongoing Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) showed that children living in a farming environment had a lower risk of developing asthma than their counterparts who resided in either non-farming rural environments, such as residential acreages and rural towns, or an urban environment.

The two-year cumulative incidence of asthma was only 2.3 per cent in farm children, compared to 5.3 per cent for other rural and 5.7 per cent for urban children.

The study was published recently in the journal Respirology.

“Farm children of ages one to five years also showed a stronger protective effect against asthma than those aged six to 11 years, possibly due to earlier exposure to the farm environment,” said William Midodzi, lead author on the study and a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Health Sciences in the University of Alberta School of Public Health in Edmonton, Canada.

As well, youngsters with parental history of asthma living in farming environments had a reduced risk of asthma compared to children living in rural non-farm environments, whereas children with parental history of asthma living in urban areas had a higher risk when compared with children living in rural non-farm environments.

Midodzi speculates that exposure to compounds called “endotoxins” from animal viruses and manure and avoidance of urban environment early in life might have reduced the risk for development of asthma.

This study shows that living in a farming environment reduces the risk of developing asthma, in contrast to previous studies reporting that existing asthma was related to exposure to farming environments. The researchers believe that exposure to endotoxins stimulates the body’s immune system and keeps it busy fighting bacteria thus reducing the risk of the body turning its immune attention to lung inflammation that causes asthma.

Clinicians who treat patients with asthma can use these findings to identify high-risk children and also educate parents, said study co-authors Carina Majaesic and Brian Rowe, University of Alberta clinician-scientists and physicians with the Capital Health region.

“This research suggests that we should discourage childhood exposure to tobacco smoke, encourage breast feeding, and not worry about keeping children’s environment too sterile,” said Majaesic.


###
The study was supported by various student/research funding awards from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2007 6:06 pm    Post subject: Research team finds link between asthma and depressive disor Reply with quote

University of Washington
6 Novermber 2007
Research team finds link between asthma and depressive disorders

Young people with asthma are about twice as likely to suffer from depressive and anxiety disorders than are children without asthma, according to a study by a research team in Seattle. Previous research had suggested a possible link in young people between asthma and some mental health problems, such as panic disorder, but this study is the first showing such a strong connection between the respiratory condition and depressive and anxiety disorders. The findings appear in the November issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Group Health Cooperative, and Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute. The researchers interviewed more than 1,300 youths, ages 11 to 17, who were enrolled in the Group Health Cooperative health maintenance organization. Of the participants, 781 had been diagnosed with or treated for asthma, and the rest were randomly selected youths with no history of asthma.

About 16 percent of the young people with asthma had depressive or anxiety disorders, the researchers found, compared to about 9 percent of youth without asthma. When controlling for other possible variables, youth with asthma were about 1.9 times as likely to have such depressive or anxiety disorders.

Researchers tested for several depressive and anxiety disorders, including depression, a mood disorder called dysthymia, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, social phobia, and agoraphobia. These disorders are somewhat common in youth, and are associated with high risk for school problems, early pregnancy, adverse health behaviors like smoking or lack of exercise, and suicide.

Young people with depressive and anxiety disorders often find it harder to manage their asthma and describe more impaired physical functioning because of the combination of asthma and a depressive or anxiety disorder, the researchers said. Youth with asthma and one of the disorders are also more likely to smoke, making their asthma more difficult to treat.

"Physicians treating young people with asthma should realize that those children are at a greater risk of depressive and anxiety disorders, and should try to educate patients and their families about this increased risk," said Dr. Wayne Katon, professor and vice-chair of psychiatry at the UW School of Medicine, and corresponding author of the study. "The primary care system is correctly identifying only about 40 percent of the cases in which children with asthma also have a psychiatric disorder. We should improve our screening for these disorders, and develop effective treatment programs for affected patients that address both asthma and the depressive or anxiety disorder."

In addition to exploring the link between asthma and depressive and anxiety disorders, researchers found other variables that further increase the risk of such disorders. Female respondents were at a greater risk of depressive and anxiety disorders, as were youth living in a single-parent household, those who had been diagnosed with asthma more recently, and those with more impairment in asthma-related physical health.


###
The research team also included Dr. Paula Lozano of the UW Department of Pediatrics, Group Health Cooperative, and Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center; Dr. Joan Russo of the UW Department of Psychiatry; Dr. Elizabeth McCauley of the UW Department of Psychiatry and Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute; Dr. Laura Richardson of the UW Department of Pediatrics and Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center; and Dr. Terry Bush of Group Health Cooperative.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2007 1:29 pm    Post subject: Heavy traffic makes breathing a burden in children Reply with quote

American Thoracic Society
14 December 2007

Heavy traffic makes breathing a burden in children

Exposure to traffic pollution may increase respiratory problems and reduce lung volumes in children with asthma, according to researchers who studied the effects of road and traffic density on children’s lung function and respiratory symptoms in the border town of Ciudad Juarez in Mexico.

“Our results show that close proximity to vehicular traffic-related emissions, either at home or at school, can lead to chronic effects in the respiratory health of children with asthma,” said Fernando Holguin, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of pulmonary medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, and lead author of the study, which appeared in the second issue for December of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

Traffic-related pollutants are known to be associated with asthma severity, but to what extent they affect airway inflammation and lung volume in both asthmatic and nonasthmatic children was unknown. “Major cities along the northern and southern US borders often have high levels of vehicular traffic flows, especially at the border crossing points. Vehicular traffic emissions from the high density of border crossing traffic may be negatively affecting the health of populations who live in nearby areas,” said Dr. Holguin.

To investigate how specific traffic-related pollutants affected children’s lung function and respiratory symptoms, the researchers recruited 200 age- and sex-matched asthmatic and non-asthmatic schoolchildren from ages six to 12. Over the course of a year, they measured road and traffic density and traffic-associated pollutants near the children’s homes and schools, and evaluated each child’s lung function and respiratory symptoms consecutively for four months.

Asthmatic children, but not children without asthma, were affected by living in homes in areas with high road density. They had higher levels of exhaled NO, as well as reductions in both lung volume and airflow. Living within 50 meters of high density road areas increased the chances of respiratory symptoms in asthmatic children by more than 50 percent.

“These results may have implications for asthmatic children residing in these conditions—especially among those who may not be adequately controlled with medications—for they may be more susceptible to vehicular emissions,” said Dr. Holguin.

While increased traffic and road density near schools also indicated respiratory effects in both asthmatic and nonasthmatic children, the data did not attain statistical significance in this study. Nonetheless, Dr. Holguin noted, “this finding could have significant public health policy implications because a significant proportion of schools in many countries are located in close proximity to major roads.”

This is the first study of its kind to evaluate traffic-related emissions exposure in a large group of children with and without asthma over an entire year. The findings support and add to previous studies which have looked at the effects of traffic emissions on children, but it may have been underpowered to detect significant associations between respiratory outcomes and specific pollutants.

“These results are significant because they quantitatively demonstrate that closer exposure to roads lead to chronic airway inflammation and reductions in lung function,” said Dr. Holguin. “This study points the way for future research to determine what preventive measures may be taken to reduce exposure and or the health effects of vehicular emissions in susceptible children.”
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