Monthly Archives: March 2013

Traffic pollution may increase children’s risk of chronic asthma

BASEL, Switzerland, March 22 (UPI) — Fourteen percent of chronic childhood asthma is due to exposure to traffic pollution near busy roads, researchers in Europe say.

Lead author Dr. Laura Perez of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute said until now, traffic pollution was assumed to only trigger asthma symptoms, but the research did not account for chronic asthma caused by the specific range of toxicants found near heavily used roads.

The researchers used data from existing epidemiological studies which found that children exposed to higher levels of near-road traffic-related pollution also had higher rates of asthma, even when taking into account a range of other relevant factors such as passive smoking or socioeconomic factors.

The study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, found 14 percent of asthma cases across the 10 European cities could be attributed to near-road traffic pollution.

“Air pollution has previously been seen to trigger symptoms but this is the first time we have estimated the percentage of cases that might not have occurred if Europeans had not been exposed to road traffic pollution,” Perez said in a statement.

Top 5 biggest mistakes parents make about their children’s asthma

 1)   My child does’t have asthma, he just coughs a lot at certain time of the year or wheezes when he gets a cold.   Parent’s have a negative connotation about what asthma means.  Today over 8 percent of the population in US has been diagnosed with asthma and that rate is higher among women and children.  If your child suffers from seasonal/allergic/viral illness related cough and feels short of breath, he may be suffering from asthma.  Proper diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in their overall health and less missed school days.

2)  I don’t hear a wheeze.  So it can’t be asthma.  This is a common misconception among parents of asthmatic children and may delay start of treatment and increase chance of ER visits and hospital admissions.  For those with asthma, a cough is usually a sign to start their medication to help with their breathing.  Any delay in doing so may cause worsening of symptoms.

3)  My child won’t be able to play sports because of his asthma.  Currently there are numerous medications that should allow most asthmatics to play sports and/or do normal activities without feeling short of breath.  Your can take the asthma control test to see if your symptoms are well controlled.   If your symptoms are not well controlled, talk to your doctor to adjust your medication to achieve better symptom control.  Your physician would benefit from your asthma history if you can provide him with more detail about your symptoms.  There are free smart phone applications such as AsthmaMD which can be used at home to track your daily symptoms and allow you to share this information with your physician.

4)  I don’t want to give my child steroids.  Current inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) have  very little systemic side effects and there have been numerous studies to show that chronic use of ICS is safe for children.  Since Asthma is an inflammatory condition, according to NIH guidelines, any form of persistent asthma would benefit from use of anti-inflammatory medication such as ICS.  These medications play an important role to reverse and/or prevent an inflammation from starting, and may prevent future lung damage.

5)  My child hasn’t needed an inhaler for over 6 months. So he must have outgrown his asthma.  Data has shown that many asthma related ER visits can be avoided if the right medications are given early.  Many children improve their asthma at some age; however, just because they haven’t had an attack for a few months does not mean that they have  outgrown their condition.  Asthma usually has triggers which include, respiratory viruses, allergies, exercise, pollen, pollution, etc. which can cause an exacerbation of symptoms.  So it is best to have an inhaler ,which is not expired, readily available for emergencies even if you haven’t had an asthma attack for a long time.

 

Article written by Dr. Sam Pejham, director of Tri-Valley Pediatrics and Assistant Clinical Professor of UCSF School of Medicine, and the Co-Founder of AsthmaMD.