Early-life Air Pollution Linked with Childhood Asthma in Minorities

Air pollution is a known asthma trigger and has been associated with short-term asthma symptoms, airway inflammation, decreased lung function, and reduced response to asthma rescue medications. A study published online in June, 2013, in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, assessed a causal relationship between air pollution and childhood asthma by estimating air pollution exposures prior to the development of asthma and to establish the generalizability of the association by studying diverse racial/ethnic populations in different geographic regions. This study included Latino and African American participants with and without asthma from five urban regions in the mainland U.S. and Puerto Rico. Residential history and data from local ambient air monitoring stations were used to estimate average annual exposure to five air pollutants: ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5). Within each region, the authors performed logistic regression to determine the relationship between early life exposure to air pollutants and subsequent asthma diagnosis. The researchers conclude that early life NO2 exposure is associated with childhood asthma in Latino and African Americans. These results add to a growing body of evidence that traffic-related pollutants may be causally related to childhood asthma. To read the study abstract, click here. To read a press release from the University of California San Francisco, where the researchers are based, click here.