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Monday, March 4th, 2013
Exposure to the chemical bisphenol A, which is found in some plastics, food cans, and a number of other consumer products, has been linked with a higher risk of childhood asthma, a new study conducted by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health has found. More from CNN:
A child’s chances of suffering with asthma were increased if BPA was detected in their urine samples at ages 3, 5 and 7. In addition, when BPA was measured in urine at age 3, the chances of wheezing by ages 5 and 6 were increased. Same thing for 7-year-olds: BPA meant later problems with wheezing.
An exception to the findings occurred among children with BPA measured in their urine at 5 years of age; those children did not have problems with wheezing during follow-ups one or two years later.
“What is important is that we were seeing the association at routine low doses of exposure,” said Dr. Kathleen Donohue, the lead study author.
One anomalous finding in the study, published Friday in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: If BPA was detected in a mother’s urine during her third trimester of pregnancy, there was less likelihood that her child would have breathing problems at age five – the opposite of what researchers expected.
Government agencies consider BPA to be a product of concern, but have stopped short of banning it in all consumer products. Last year, the FDA banned BPA from all baby bottles and sippy cups.
Image: Child with asthma, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
Fast food, which is often cited as a major factor in the U.S. childhood obesity epidemic, is now being associated with asthma and eczema, two allergy-based illnesses. More on the study, which was published in the medical journal Thorax, from Yahoo! News:
The researchers found that, out of the 15 food types in the questionnaire, only fast food showed an association with asthma and eczema in both age groups regardless of gender and socio-economic status. Three or more servings a week was linked to a 39 percent increase in severe asthma among teens and a 27 percent increased risk among younger children.
“A consistent pattern for the adolescent group was found for the relationship between symptoms and fast foods,” the researchers wrote in the study. “As adolescents are generally known to be high consumers of fast food, these results that show a significant increased risk of developing each or all three conditions may be a genuine finding.”
Though both eczema and asthma can be triggered by food allergies—and typical fast-food meals are filled with common allergens like gluten, dairy, egg, and soy—Williams told Yahoo! Shine that allergies probably aren’t the main issue here.
“We did not look for gluten, although bread and pasta both have gluten (however gluten free pasta and bread are now widely available so when someone says yes to eating bread 3x per week it may well be that they ate gluten free as this practice is growing in some countries). So we cannot tease this out,” he wrote in an email. “There is no doubt that food allergy plays an important role in some people with severe asthma and eczema, but those people tend to recognize it and avoid those foods.”
“I doubt if our observation of an association between severe allergies and fast foods is mediated much by increased food allergens,” he added.
A 2011 study published in Nutrition Research and Practice suggested that additives in processed foods could also trigger an allergic reaction in some kids, but Williams and his team say that fat intake, not food allergies or additives, is probably the main culprit.
Image: French fries, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Babies who eat fish between turning six months old and their first birthdays may have a lower risk of developing asthma later in life than babies who eat fish earlier than six months of age, or after age 1, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. Reuters has more:
“A window of exposure between the age of 6 and 12 months might exist in which fish might be associated with a reduced risk of asthma.”
Concern over seafood allergies prompts some parents and doctors to delay introducing fish into babies’ diets. However, some research has found that a mother’s fish consumption during pregnancy, or the baby’s consumption of it early on, may lower the risk of asthma.
Using health and diet information from a group of 7,210 children born between 2002 and 2006 in Rotterdam, the researchers found that 1,281 children ate fish in their first six months of life, 5,498 first ate fish in the next six months, and 431 did not eat fish until after age one.
The researchers then looked at health records for when the children were about four years old, and how many parents reported that their children were wheezing or short of breath.
Between 40 percent and 45 percent of parents of children who did not eat fish until after their first birthdays said their children wheezed, compared to 30 percent of children who first ate fish when they were between six and 12 months old.
That, the researchers said, works out to about a 36 percent decreased risk of wheezing for the children who first had fish between the ages of six months and one year.
Image: Child’s serving of fish, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
A review of more than 20 scientific studies conducted over the past decade has led researchers to recommend that children who have asthma or have risk factors for the disease not be given acetaminophen, a common pain reliever and fever reducer, The New York Times reports. Dr. John T. McBride, a pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio, has led the latest study and asserts that the rise in acetaminophen use (which happened in the 1980s amid fears that aspirin can cause Reye’s syndrome in children) can be linked to the sharp increase in asthma diagnoses in the past decades. From the Times:
Dr. McBride based his assertion on several lines of evidence. In addition to the timing of the asthma epidemic, he said, there is now a plausible explanation for how acetaminophen might provoke or worsen asthma, a chronic inflammatory condition of the lungs. Even a single dose of acetaminophen can reduce the body’s levels of glutathione, an enzyme that helps repair oxidative damage that can drive inflammation in the airways, researchers have found.
“Almost every study that’s looked for it has found a dose-response relationship between acetaminophen use and asthma,” Dr. McBride said. “The association is incredibly consistent across age, geography and culture.”
A statistical link between acetaminophen and asthma has turned up in studies of infants, children and adults. Studies have also found an increased risk of asthma in children whose mothers who took acetaminophen during pregnancy.
Image: Asthma inhaler, via Shutterstock.
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Monday, October 31st, 2011
More than 100 playgrounds across the city of Boston are about to receive signs prohibiting smoking on the grounds. The signs read, “Children at Play, No Smoking,” and they are intended, The Boston Globe reports, to protect children from the harmful effects of second hand smoke, including asthma attacks, respiratory infections, lung cancer, and heart disease.
The signs are not legally binding; there are no new laws or city ordinances that prohibit smoking at playgrounds. But Boston’s mayor says the signs will empower parents to keep smokers at a distance from play areas.
“I know that nothing we put on the law books could be as strong as a parent who is trying to protect their kids from secondhand smoke and cigarette debris,’’ Mayor Thomas M. Menino said.
Similar initiatives are under way in 570 countries nationwide, the Globe reported.
Boston’s Public Health Commission cited studies suggesting that sitting outdoors a mere 3 feet from a smoker can expose a child to the same amount of second-hand smoke as sitting indoors in the same room with someone who is smoking. Other studies reported incidents of children being burned because lit cigarettes are held at a child’s eye level while they are running around a playground.
(image via: http://www.palmarsh.kent.sch.uk/)
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