Don't blame just air pollution for asthma in kids

Don't blame just air pollution for asthma in kids

Updated:
© iStockphoto / Peter Nadoiski © iStockphoto / Peter Nadoiski

(HealthDay News) -- Children with asthma who live in areas with dirty air require emergency medical care more often than those with less exposure to air pollution, a new study finds.

The Columbia University study included nearly 200 children with asthma in New York City, ages 7 to 8. They came from middle-class families in four of the city's five boroughs: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.

Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways that can make it difficult to breathe.

For the study, researchers grouped the kids based on asthma rates in their neighborhoods.

Although family incomes were similar, those in neighborhoods with higher asthma rates tended to live in apartment buildings or on higher floors. They were more likely to live in crowded quarters, and to be cared for by single mothers, the study found.

Those children needed emergency care more often and tended to suffer more from exercise-induced wheezing.

Air pollution levels nearby were higher than in neighborhoods with lower asthma rates, the researchers reported.

However, children in neighborhoods with lower asthma rates were also significantly affected by air pollution, too, according to the study.

The findings were published Oct. 18 in the journal Pediatric Research.

"In neighborhoods with less poverty, children exposed to air pollution were more likely to be taken for emergency asthma treatment," said lead author Dr. Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir, a pediatric pulmonologist.

"However, in neighborhoods with more poverty, it's likely that other things in the environment, such as stress and violence, have a stronger effect on urgent asthma treatment than air pollution," Lovinsky-Desir said in a journal news release.

She warned that neighborhoods where asthma is less common should not be excluded from clean-air efforts.

More information

The American Lung Association has more on asthma in children.

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