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Indoor Swimming Pools May Be Linked to Asthma

Number of swimming pools per capita tied to increase in childhood asthma across Europe

TUESDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- The presence of indoor swimming pools is associated with an increased prevalence of childhood asthma across Europe, according to a study published online July 17 in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The findings support the "pool-chlorine" hypothesis, which states that asthma may be caused by exposure to chlorine and its by-products, the authors state.

Alfred Bernard, Ph.D., of Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, Belgium, and colleagues examined the prevalence of wheezing by written or video questionnaire and of ever-asthma, hay fever, rhinitis and atopic eczema among almost 190,000 children aged 13 to 14 years from 21 European countries and another 94,549 children aged 6 to 7 years. They also assessed the number of indoor chlorinated swimming pools per 100,000 inhabitants.

After controlling for altitude, climate and gross domestic product, the prevalence of wheeze and ever-asthma was associated with number of indoor pools per 100,000 of the population, the investigators found. The prevalence of wheezing in 13- to 14-year-olds rose 3.39 percent and asthma rose 2.73 percent for every additional indoor chlorinated swimming pool per 100,000 inhabitants. In children aged 6 to 7, prevalence rose 1.47 percent with swimming pool availability.

"These observations reinforce the need to pursue research in this area and to examine the relationships between the childhood asthma epidemic affecting industrialized countries and the exposure of children to chlorination products of swimming pools," the study authors conclude.

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