Air with a lot of particles can trigger asthma symptoms in children, causing coughing, wheezing and tightness of chest. Indoor particulate matter has been on the increase and has been associated with more severe asthma symptoms in children, according to a recent study by Johns Hopkins University researchers.
Researchers at John Hopkins University studied a group of children with asthma and the effects of indoor particulate matter. Results of the study are published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives of February, 2009.
Particulate matter consists of airborne particles that are a mixture of liquid droplets and solid particles. Particles come in various sizes and shapes. Fine particles are tiny and can penetrate deep into the body’s respiratory system. Coarse particles are larger particles, which can also enter the body’s respiratory system. Coarse particles can be produced by cooking and dusting.
Researchers from the Center for Childhood Asthma in the Urban Environment, which is a joint center of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; conducted the study. There were 150 children, ranging in age from two to six years old, who were followed for six months. The air in the bedrooms of the children was monitored.
Researchers found that there were substantial increases in symptoms of asthma in bedrooms with higher concentrations of coarse particles, according to lead author Meredith C. McCormack, MD, MHS, an instructor with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Bedrooms with higher levels of particles were linked to more symptoms in the children with asthma. As the concentration of coarse particles got higher, the symptoms increased. Symptoms included coughing, wheezing and chest tightness.
Children spend a substantial amount of time indoors, nearly 80% of their time; according to study co-author Gregory B. Diette, MD; who is an associate professor at the School of Medicine and the co-director at the Center for Childhood Asthma in the Urban environment.
Patrick Breysse, PhD, professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the co-director of Center for Childhood Asthma in the Urban Environment; stated that improving indoor air quality may provide a means of improving the respiratory health of children, particularly children who live in the inner city.
The website for WebMd describes asthma as a disease that causes the airways to the lungs to be chronically inflamed. Asthma triggers, such as airborne particles, cause the muscles around the airways to spasm and produce mucus, which narrows the airways, causing shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing.
This study suggests that finding ways to cut down of the particulate matter in the air may help to reduce the symptoms of children with asthma.
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health: Indoor air pollution increases asthma symptoms, Press release dated February 19, 2009, EurekAlert.
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