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Gene linked with childhood asthma is identified, giving hope for new therapies

Asthma • • GeneticsJul 04 07

A gene that is strongly associated with a risk of developing childhood onset asthma is identified in new research published online today in Nature.

In a genetic study of more than 2,000 children, scientists established that genetic markers on chromosome 17 had a striking effect on the risk of asthma in children. They also found that these markers altered the levels of a new gene called ORMDL3, which was at a higher level in the blood cells of children with asthma than in those without.

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Giving antibiotics to babies boosts asthma risk

Children's Health • • Allergies • • AsthmaJun 13 07

Children who received antibiotics as babies have a higher risk of developing asthma by age 7, Canadian researchers said on Monday.

Antibiotics are commonly prescribed to children under age 1 for a host of reasons, most often for lower respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia or upper respiratory tract infections like ear and sinus infections.

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Asthma Not Controlled in Majority of Patients

Allergies • • Asthma • • Public HealthMay 30 07

A survey of 1,812 patients with moderate-to-severe asthma revealed that the disease was not controlled in 55 percent, despite the fact that most had health insurance and visited their health care providers regularly.

“Even more shocking was the finding that 38 percent of controlled asthmatics and 54 percent of uncontrolled asthmatics reported having had an asthma attack during which they feared for their life,” said Stephen P. Peters, M.D., Ph.D., lead author and a professor of pediatrics, internal medicine-pulmonary and associate director of the Center for Human Genomics at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

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Fear affects emergency care for child with asthma

Children's Health • • Asthma • • Emergencies / First AidApr 25 07

Parents’ psychological responses to asthma attacks are among the strongest motivators of seeking accident and emergency (A&E) services for their child, according to a study conducted in London.

In contrast, characteristics of the home environment, such as dampness, overcrowding, or living with a smoker, have little effect on use of emergency departments.

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Apples during pregnancy protects baby from asthma

Asthma • • PregnancyApr 12 07

A new study suggests that women who eat apples while pregnant may protect their child from developing asthma and related symptoms.

In the study, researchers from The Netherlands and Scotland led by S. M. Willers of Utrecht University tracked the diets of nearly 2,000 pregnant women and checked the lung health of 1,253 of their children.

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Mediterranean diet may ward off asthma, allergies

Allergies • • Asthma • • DietingApr 11 07

A traditional Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables and nuts during childhood appears to protect against symptoms of asthma and nasal allergies, according to a new study.

“There has been increasing interest in the role of nutrition in the development of asthma, and in the modulating effect of nutrition on environmental exposures,” Dr. Paul Cullinan, of Royal Brompton Hospital and National Heart and Lung Institute, London, UK, and colleagues write in the medical journal Thorax.

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Frequent Infections May be a Sign of Immunodeficiency

AIDS/HIV • • Allergies • • AsthmaApr 03 07

Children who get frequent infections, such as ear infections, sinusitis or pneumonia, may have a more severe condition called immunodeficiency, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

Patients who have immunodeficiency have infections that usually do not go away without using antibiotics and often recur within one or two weeks after antibiotic treatment is completed. These patients frequently need many courses of antibiotics each year to stay healthy. There are several forms of immunodeficiency and while some are very severe and life-threatening, many are milder but still important enough to cause recurrent or severe infections.

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Airway heat therapy helps with asthma control

AsthmaMar 29 07

The removal of muscle tissue in the overly active airways of asthma sufferers by exposing the tissue to heat—a procedure called bronchial thermoplasty—can help improve the control of moderate to severe persistent asthma, new research suggests.

The so-called smooth-muscle fibers that surround the airways are what cause constriction of the airways in asthma. Bronchial thermoplasty aims to reduce smooth muscle activity by delivering thermal energy to the walls of the airways. The experimental treatment is given in a series of procedures using a bronchoscope and a device at the end for generating heat in a controlled fashion.

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Aspirin may prevent asthma in adults: study

Children's Health • • Allergies • • Asthma • • Drug NewsJan 16 07

Results from the Physicians Health Study indicate that regular use of aspirin may reduce the risk of “new-onset” asthma in adults by 22 percent.

However, there is no evidence that aspirin improves symptoms in people who already have asthma, and it may, of course, cause acute breathing difficulties among individuals with “aspirin-intolerant asthma.”

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Young asthmatics reliably describe health status

Children's Health • • AsthmaJan 11 07

The results of a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics indicate that children as young as 7 years old can dependably report on their asthma health status.

“Whether to collect patient-reported data (such as health status or health-related quality of life) from parents or children is an important question in both pediatric research and clinical practice,” Dr. Lynn M. Olson, of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Elk Grove Village, Illinois, and colleagues write.

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Smoking may boost teens’ asthma risk

AsthmaNov 15 06

Teenagers who smoke are more likely than their peers to develop asthma, a finding that highlights the immediate danger of the habit, researchers reported Wednesday.

Experts have suspected that smoking is a risk factor for asthma, but studies have been inconclusive.

One of the problems is that most studies have looked at adults. It’s difficult, for instance, to separate asthma symptoms from emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which are common in older smokers.

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Bronchial thermoplasty reduces asthma attacks

AsthmaOct 25 06

The removal of muscle tissue in the hyperactive airways of asthma patients by exposing the tissue to heat reduces disease exacerbations and significantly improves the patients’ quality of life, Canadian investigators announced here during CHEST 2006, the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians.

The Asthma Intervention Research trial involved 108 patients, who were an average of 39.4 years old, with poorly controlled moderate-to-severe asthma. The subjects’ asthma persisted despite optimal drug therapy with corticosteroids and long-acting beta-agonists.

At study entry, the patients had FEV1 levels between 60 and 80 percent of normal. FEV1 (forced expiration volume in 1 second) is a test commonly used to assess lung function.

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Asthma may prompt sickle cell pain in children

AsthmaSep 27 06

Painful episodes in children with sickle cell disease (SCD) and asthma are temporally associated with respiratory symptoms, doctors from St. Louis, Missouri, have noticed.

“In children SCD and asthma, respiratory symptoms are a risk factor for painful SCD episodes within 96 hours,” they report.

SCD is an inherited disorder most common among African Americans that causes normally round blood cells to take on a “sickle” shape, which interferes with normal circulation and can cause a variety of serious health problems.

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Using control drugs “as needed” eases asthma

AsthmaAug 25 06

For people with asthma who are on a drug combo for regular maintenance therapy, taking the drugs “as needed” when they have symptoms appears to improve overall asthma control, according to a report from the Netherlands.

The role of inhaled corticosteroids, such as budesonide, and long-acting beta-2 agonists, such as formoterol, in controlling asthma have not been fully defined, Dr. Klaus F. Rabe, from the University Medical Centre in Leiden and colleagues point out in the Lancet medical journal. While taking these two types of drugs as maintenance therapy is well established, their benefits when used as needed are unclear.

The new findings are based on a study of 3394 patients with moderate to severe asthma who still had symptoms while taking budesonide/formoterol maintenance therapy during a 2-week trial period. For relief treatment during episodes of breathing difficulty, the subjects were randomly assigned to use the traditional rapid-acting beta-2 agonist terbutaline, or formoterol, or formoterol plus budesonide.

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Asthma inhaler running out? Hard to tell

AsthmaJul 31 06

Because asthma inhalers do not include dose counters, asthma sufferers may unknowingly run out of their rescue medication, experts warn in a new report. They call for manufacturers of pressurized metered-dose inhalers, or pMDIs, to include dose counters as a standard feature.

These devices are the cornerstone of asthma treatment. They contain a specified number of doses of medication. But after an asthma sufferer has used up the potentially lifesaving medication, pMDI canisters may continue to deliver 20 to 80 percent more puffs containing little more than inactive propellant.

How do patients know when their pMDI is empty or when it’s time to refill their inhaler prescription? Nancy Sander, founder and president of the Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics in Fairfax, Virginia and colleagues surveyed 500 US families with asthma to find out.

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