Family cat unlikely to give baby Johnny asthma
Exposure during infancy to pets or airborne “allergens,” such as house dust mites and Timothy weed, does not seem to increase the likelihood a child will develop airway hyperresponsiveness—a hallmark of asthma in which the lungs overreact to pollen, dust or other airborne particles by closing up tiny airways.
Dr. Elizabeth C. TePas and colleagues from the Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston report their findings in the current issue of the medical journal CHEST.
The investigators looked for ties between early life factors and airway hyperresponsiveness in a group of 131 children who had at least one parent with a history of asthma or allergies, placing the children at heightened risk for asthma and allergies.
The investigators followed the children’s health and early life exposures to allergens until they were an average of 7 years old, when they underwent allergy and lung testing.
According to TePas and colleagues, more than half of the children (67 of 131 or 51 percent) had at least one positive skin-prick test response and 37 (28 percent) had airway hyperresponsiveness determined by standard testing.
Overall, hyperresponsive airways were strongly associated with early sensitization to cat, dust mite, cockroach, and ragweed allergens, the team reports.
However, there was no association between airway hyperresponsiveness and early life exposure to a pet in the home or to tobacco smoke.
These findings, coupled with other findings, suggest that ongoing exposure to allergens, not just early-life exposure, is important in determining hyperresponsiveness of the airways in children.
SOURCE: CHEST, June 2006.
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