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Respiratory infections, not air pollution, pose winter health threat for children with asthma

ential time-related confounders, such as upper respiratory infections, the correlation disappeared on almost all measures. Higher carbon monoxide levels were marginally associated with increased use of rescue medications (odds ratio: 1.065) and daily symptoms were marginally associated with ozone levels (odds ratio: 1.083).

"It is well known that upper respiratory infections can cause problems for people with asthma, but the air pollutions results were a surprise," said Dr. Gelfand. "We believe that careful monitoring of the children allowed us to filter out confounding factors that would have mistakenly suggested a significant health impact of air pollution."

The researchers are not ready to write off the effects of air pollution during summer. For one, children may be exposed to higher levels of air pollution in the summer because they spend more time outside. Also, ozone, a known respiratory irritant, rises to much higher levels during the summer and may pose more of a problem than particulate pollution in the winter. Next summer Drs. Rabinovitch and Gelfand will begin a study of the health impacts of ozone on children with asthma.

"We believe this is good news for parents of children with asthma," said Rabinovitch. "Instead of worrying about air pollution they can focus their efforts on preventing and treating the real wintertime threat to their children's health colds and other respiratory infections."


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Contact: William Allstetter
allstetterw@njc.org
303-398-1002
National Jewish Medical and Research Center
9-Nov-2004


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