The 10-year-long Children's Health Study is considered one of the nation's most comprehensive studies to date of the long-term effects of smog on children. The new findings address the development of lung function in children, showing that lung function growth of kids in polluted areas lags behind that of children in areas with cleaner air. Lung function is a medical term describing lung capacity and how well lungs are working.
"These findings are an important confirmation of our earlier studies," says W. James Gauderman, Ph.D., associate professor of preventive medicine at USC and the study?s lead author. "The results further strengthen the evidence that breathing polluted air has a negative effect on the developing lungs of children."
Preventive medicine researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of USC have monitored levels of major pollutants in a dozen Southern California communities since 1993, while carefully following the respiratory health of more than 3,000 students. The latest report, released in the July 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, cover smog's health effects on a group of children from 1996 to 2000.
Each year, USC scientists tested lung function by having each child take a deep breath, then measuring how much and how fast kids could blow out the air. Children's lung function usually grows steadily until they reach adulthood.
Children with decreased lung function may be more susceptible to respiratory disease and may be more likely to have weaker or smaller lungs and have chronic respiratory problems as adults.
"Given the public health importance of these findings, it is imperative that we accelerate our efforts to achieve clean air in
Contact: Jon Weiner
University of Southern California