Environmental risk factors for respiratory symptoms and childhood asthma.

Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Medical University of Silesia, Bytom, Poland. kasznia_kocot@poczta.onet.pl
Ann Agric Environ Med 2010;17(2):221–229
The presented cross-sectional study, comprised a group of 1,130 children from 13-15 years of age living in Upper Silesia, Poland, was undertaken to ascertain the role of environmental factors in the development of adverse respiratory health outcomes. To estimate the prevalence of these effects, the ISAAC questionnaire supplemented by questions related to risk factors was used. Bronchial asthma was identified in 4.5% of the children, asthma diagnosed by physicians in 8.7%, and prevalence of wheezing in the previous 12 months in 12.6%. The highest probability of wheezing was found in children with maternal genetic propensity (such as asthma, allergy), exposed to maternal smoking, or was connected with household risk factors such as the presence of dampness/mould or living in 50-year-old building. Female gender and attendance at nursery school were shown to be protective factors against wheezing. The probability of asthma was nearly twice as high in children residing in damp/mouldy dwellings, heated by coal-fired furnaces and living in the immediate vicinity of a road with heavy traffic. This study revealed that exposure to indoor (tobacco smoke, coal stove emission, mould or dampness in dwelling) and outdoor (traffic pollution) air contaminants are major environmental factors responsible for adverse respiratory health effects in children.