In First Year Of Life Increases Asthma Risk
From: Robina Suwol
Date: 31 May 2003
Remote Name: 188.8.131.52
Seattle - Exposure to cockroaches, the farming environment, wood smoke,
pesticides and herbicides during the first year of life increases the risk of
developing asthma later in childhood, according to a study presented at the
American Thoracic Society International Conference in Seattle. "Environmental
exposures early in life appear to be important for the development of asthma
during childhood," said lead investigator Frank Gilliland, M.D., Ph.D.,
Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California in
Los Angeles. "Scientists have spent a lot of time looking at the role of
indoor allergens, daycare attendance, and infections in asthma development.
Many studies are focusing on events during the first year or two of life, but
there has not been a careful look at other
Dr. Gilliland studied more than 700 children, half of whom had developed
asthma by age 5, and half who did not have asthma by age 5. Parents provided
information on the children's early life environmental exposures. Dr.
Gilliland found that children exposed to cockroaches within the first year of
life were twice as likely as those not exposed to cockroaches to develop
Herbicide exposure in the first year of life was associated with a 4.6-fold
increased risk of asthma, while pesticide exposure was associated with a
2.4-fold increased risk.
"We also found that exposure to wood or oil smoke in home from heating and
exposures to the farming environment increased the risk of asthma, but the
risk was strongest if the exposures occurred in the first year of life, said
Dr. Gilliland. "If the exposure occurred when the child was older, it didn't
have as large an effect."
In the first year of a child's life, the lungs are rapidly growing and the
immune system is developing, so the child is particularly likely to become
sensitized to asthma triggers, Dr. Gilliland said. "Infants are different than
older children or adults - their behavior patterns are different. Their
respiratory rates are higher, and their ability to metabolize and excrete
materials from the environment is different. The increased risk for asthma
that we noted from environmental exposures during the first year may reflect
that sensitive window in development."
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