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Exercise Can Spur Wheezing, Even in Healthy Kids

Asthma-like symptoms surprised researchers

TUESDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Intense exercise can provoke the onset of temporary lung problems and other symptoms typically associated with asthma in children who are not actually asthmatic, new research reveals.

The findings -- based on an analysis of 56 healthy children with no prior history of asthma -- builds on prior research that suggested that adults can similarly develop bouts of wheezing and reduced pulmonary function following vigorous exercise.

"The results of this study indicate that short bouts of heavy exercise do cause a decrease in lung function testing in healthy children without a history of asthma or allergies," Dr. Alladin Abosaida, study lead author and hospital clinician at the University of California's Irvine and Miller Children's Hospital, said in a news release.

Abosaida and his colleagues were slated to report their findings Monday at the American Thoracic Society conference in New Orleans.

The authors engaged the participating children in exercise regimens designed to evaluate exercise-induced asthma as well as general aerobic capacity.

The research team found that after exercising almost half the children displayed at least one abnormal pulmonary function result. They noted that such abnormalities were typically the result of bronchoconstriction -- a tightening of the primary airways through which air passes into and out of the lungs.

Abosaida expressed surprise at the findings. "We did not expect to see pulmonary function abnormalities after short periods of heavy exercise in such a large number of healthy children in our subject population," he said.

The team indicated that more research is needed to ascertain the exact mechanism driving the exercise-related lung dysfunction they observed.

More information

For more on asthma and children, visit the National Institutes of Health.

--Alan Mozes

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, May 14, 2010

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