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Cigarette smoke worsens respiratory infections in infants

ericans are more likely to suffer from asthma and to be hospitalized because of it, Castro and colleagues hypothesized that African-American children would be at increased risk for serious RSV infection. But the study showed just the opposite.

Another surprise was that children who came from homes with the highest levels of allergens had no effect on the severity of RSV infection. The researchers measured levels of dog and cat allergen, two types of dust mites and cockroach allergen, all of which have been linked to allergy and asthma problems in older children and adults.

"We were thinking that the kids who came from homes that had high allergen levels would already be compromised because they would have a reaction to those allergens and develop inflammation in their windpipes, so they would tend to do worse with RSV," Castro says. "But we found that even in the kids who came from the homes with the highest allergen levels, there was no increased risk."

Having a mother with allergies or asthma also tended to have a protective effect. Those children whose mothers had allergies or asthma tended to have less serious RSV infections.

That's somewhat surprising because the virus has been linked to the risk for asthma later on in life. As the children in the RBEL study get older, they will be followed to see if they develop asthma problems.

"We believe the severity of that initial RSV infection has a role in increasing the risk for asthma later in childhood," Castro says. But he won't know for sure until the children get older.

Bradley JP, Bacharier LB, Bonfiglio J, Schechtman KB, Strunk R, Storch G, Castro M. Severity of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Bronchiolitis is Affected by Cigarette Smoke Exposure and Atopy. Pediatrics, vol.115; pp. 7-14, Jan. 2005.


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Contact: Jim Dryden
jdryden@wustl.edu
314-286-0110
Washington University School of Medicine
8-Mar-2005


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