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Exposure to Chlorinated Swimming Pools Could Increase Asthma Risk in Children

Encouraging children to take to swimming is alright. But there is a flip side too .

Swimming in chlorinated pools could actually increase a child's risk of developing asthma. The traditional advice that swimming is beneficial for young asthmatics could be off the mark, a new study seems to indicate.

Pediatrics, a leading journal, reported last week that children who swam in indoor chlorinated pools during their early years have higher rates of asthma and breathing problems later on than those who did not.

This was blamed on airway damage from breathing in various chlorination fumes.

One of the potentially harmful gases was named as trichloramine - or nitrogen trichloride - which can result from chlorine reacting with ammonia or swimmers' urine or sweat.

Indoor pools are thought to exacerbate the problem by trapping fumes inside, thus forcing swimmers to inhale higher concentrations of the chemicals.

The former Olympic swimmer Samantha Riley began swimming as a child to help combat her asthma.

Riley, who now runs a chain of indoor pools in Queensland, doubts that her condition was caused by pool exposure.

"It has always been my understanding that swimming is of benefit rather than a cause of asthma,'' she said.

"I would hate to stop parents sending their children to learn to swim because it's a life-saving skill, especially in our climate.''

Riley's son Lucas Fydler, 2, also has asthma. He has been to hospital four times in the past month, but his condition is improving.

"He has inherited my lungs,'' Riley said.

Other famous swimmers to suffer from asthma include Susie Maroney, Dawn Fraser, Matthew Dunn and Grant Hackett.

The European study, which involved 341 schoolchildren, pointed out that asthma rates were up to 10 times higher in developed English-speaking nations such as Australia than most southern and easter
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