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Trouble at Home Boosts Kids' Asthma

As environments got worse, symptoms worsened, too, study found

FRIDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Poor family support and bad neighborhoods can aggravate asthma symptoms in kids, Canadian research suggests.

Edith Chen and colleagues at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver examined the degree of support that 78 children with asthma received from family and peers. They also looked at social problems, such as crime and violence, in the children's neighborhoods.

They then assessed the children's lung function, asthma symptoms, and certain behaviors that can affect asthma.

The results indicated a correlation between social environment and asthma symptoms and lung function. Children who reported less family support and lived in worse neighborhoods experienced greater asthma symptoms, the team said. Those who reported less family support had poorer lung function.

Further analysis revealed that low levels of family support were associated with greater lung inflammation which, in turn, was associated with poorer asthma outcomes. Family support did not appear to influence behaviors that can affect asthma.

The researchers also concluded that living in worse neighborhoods was associated with higher rates of child smoking and exposure to smoke, which is associated with poorer asthma outcomes.

"Poor family relations may foster psychological experiences with direct physiologic consequences, whereas problematic neighborhoods may operate by providing the role models for maladaptive behaviors," the study authors wrote.

Peer group support had no significant effect on asthma symptoms or lung function. The study was published in the first issue for October of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about childhood asthma.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, Sept. 28, 2007

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