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Study finds link between birth order and asthma symptoms
Date:5/8/2008

served as the basis for what is called the hygiene hypothesis, the idea that exposure to infectious agents at a very young age reduces the risk of asthma in the long term. Only by continuing to follow these children can we determine whether and how birth order predicts diagnosed asthma and asthma that persists throughout childhood, noted Inge Goldstein, DrPH, a senior lecturer in the Mailman Schools Department of Epidemiology and senior author of the study.

But even if the patterns of association change as the children grow, we have learned from this study that four year-olds with older siblings are more likely than other four year-olds to experience respiratory symptoms that burden them and their families and impose the costs of care on them and the community, commented Judith Jacobson, DrPH, associate professor of clinical Epidemiology at the Mailman School and principal investigator of the study, which was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

In this study, the prevalence of recent wheeze was higher among boys than girls (32% vs 21%) and higher among children with an asthmatic parent than other children (53% vs 22%). Having younger siblings, unlike having older siblings, was not associated with respiratory symptoms. The associations of birth order with respiratory symptoms were statistically significant only among those children who were not atopic (allergic) and among those without an asthmatic parent.


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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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