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City Kids Find the Breathin' Is Easier Elsewhere
Date:3/2/2009

osinophils, white blood cells linked to allergies -- and lung function.

After a week in the rural environment, there was a fourfold decrease in nasal eosinophil levels and an increase in lung function, as measured by peak expiratory flow (the strength at which you can breathe out).

"Clean air is good. The air where you live is probably more important than we generally think," Piedimonte said. "One of the best things we could accomplish is to clean the air in cities. Our situation in the U.S. has improved, but there's much more to do. If we cut funding to agencies like the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], the implications for children's health are going to be very dire."

Dr. Andrew MacGinnitie, an allergist and immunologist at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, said the study was "impressive, and it adds to a growing body of evidence that pollution is a big driver of asthma." But, he added that he would have preferred it if, in addition to testing biomarkers of allergies and testing for lung function, the researchers had assessed the children's symptoms in both the urban and rural environments.

The good news from the study, he noted, is that "it does suggest that changes we see with pollution may be reversible."

Other asthma research published in the same issue of Pediatrics found that antibiotic use in the first year of life was associated with a small increase in the risk of developing asthma later in life. The Canadian study also found that the risk increases with each course of antibiotics that is prescribed.

Additionally, a Swiss study found that there was no link between the development of asthma and routine vaccination against whopping cough (pertussis).

More information

Learn more about air quality and asthma from the Nemours Foundation.


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