Avoiding Allergic Triggers May Lower Rate of Asthma in Kids
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Avoiding exposure to dust, pets and tobacco smoke, and choosing breast milk over regular formula may lower rates of asthma among infants, researchers suggest.
Their report in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, looked at more than 500 children up to 1 year old with at least one first-degree relative with asthma, or two first-degree relatives with allergies. Having close relatives with allergies or asthma increases an infant's risk of also developing the disorders.
About 15% of children who participated in the program developed asthma and about 17% developed allergies. In comparison, about 20% of children who did not take these steps developed asthma and about 27% developed allergies at 1 year old.
Overall, children who participated in the program reduced their risk of asthma by about one-third and reduced the risk of allergies by nearly one-half compared with other children, report Dr. Moira Chan-Yeung from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and colleagues.
``The results suggest that there is a good outcome for a large proportion of children,'' one of the study's authors Dr. Alexander Ferguson of the University of British Columbia, told Reuters Health.
Ferguson said the team of researchers will follow the children for several years to determine whether the program reduces the frequency of asthma over the long term.
To reduce exposure to house dust, investigators instructed parents to encase all mattresses and box springs in their home with a special covering and wash all bedding in hot water. Pets were removed from the home or kept outside of the bedrooms of children in the study group, and parents were counseled on how to quit smoking.
Mothers of children who took part in the program were encouraged to breast-feed for at least 4 months. When exclusive breast-feeding was not possible, researchers supplied a special, non-allergenic formula. Participants were also encouraged to avoid using day care, which can expose children to a host of allergic triggers.
Rates of asthma among children have soared in the past two decades, the authors note. While the lung disorder is genetic, avoiding certain environmental triggers may help to reduce the severity.
The research team calls for further investigations into the link between environmental risk factors and asthma.