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Pollutants May Increase Bronchiolitis Risk in Infants

Study finds that some pollutants put infants at modest risk for respiratory health compromise

MONDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Certain types of traffic-related air pollutants may raise the risk of bronchiolitis in infants, according to research published in the Nov. 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Catherine J. Karr, M.D., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues analyzed data from 11,675 infants who had a clinical encounter for bronchiolitis from 2 to 12 months of age. All were born in a region of British Columbia that includes Vancouver and Victoria. Cases were age-matched to about 57,000 controls. Exposure to several gases and particulates was estimated through a variety of methods.

The researchers found an interquartile increase in lifetime exposure to nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and wood-smoke exposure days was associated with a higher risk of bronchiolitis (adjusted odds ratios, 1.12, 1.08, 1.13, and 1.08, respectively). No adverse effect was seen for two types of particulate matter, but living within 50 meters of a major highway was linked to a 6-percent higher risk.

"This study provides further evidence that children, specifically very young children in their first months of life, may suffer respiratory health compromise even at levels of ambient air pollution that fall within regulatory limits. Although the magnitude of the risk in this and other studies of air pollution on child health are modest, the magnitude of the population at risk and public health impact of the disease is not modest," the authors conclude.

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