Children who are chronically exposed to higher levels of air pollution show marked deficiencies in lung growth and function, and not just short-term breathing problems, according to researchers in Mexico.
"Our study revealed significant deficits in lung function growth in children with long-term exposure to air pollutants, wrote Isabelle Romieu, M.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study. "In addition to the important impact of lung health, early lung deficits may increase the risk of developing chronic obstructive lung disease later in life, as well as cardiovascular morbidity and general mortality.
These conclusions are the result of a three-year, multi-site prospective study that measured lung function growth in 3,170 eight-year-old children at 39 schools in Mexico City and analyzed it with respect to the childrens exposure to common urban pollutants: ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and particulate matter under 10 m (PM10).
Dr. Romieu, of the Instituto Nacional de Salud Publico in Mexico, and eight colleagues reported their findings in the second issue for August of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.
Previous studies have found that short-term exposure to pollutants is associated with acute but reversible deficits in lung function, but the effects of long-term exposure, like that experienced by residents of heavily polluted urban environments, had not been conclusively characterized.
The researchers analyzed forced vital capacity in one second (FVC1); forced expiratory flow, midexpiratory phase (FEF25-75); and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) in the schoolchildren at six month increments over three years to determine the effects of pollutant exposure, which was measured by air monitoring stations within 2 km of the children's schools. They conducted personal exposure assessments on 60 randomly selected children in the study to e
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American Thoracic Society