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Early Day Care May Not Protect Against Childhood Asthma

Study suggests burden of respiratory illness shifts to younger age

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Although early exposure to day care causes an increase in airway symptoms, it does not confer any additional protection against asthma in later childhood, according to a study published in the September 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Daan Caudri, M.D., of Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a study of 3,963 newborns who were followed for eight years, at which point they underwent tests to measure their sensitization to airborne allergens and airway responsiveness.

Children who had been in day care from birth to the age of two years had more wheezing in early childhood, but less between the age of four and eight years; but, by age 8, early day care did not protect against the odds of developing asthma, the researchers found. Early day care did not protect against allergic sensitization or airway hyper-responsiveness, either.

"Since the postulation of the 'hygiene hypothesis' by Strachan, many studies have focused on the relation between day care and the development of asthma," the authors write. "Apparently, the incidence of asthma cannot be reduced by promoting early day care attendance. Early day care merely seems to shift the burden of respiratory morbidity to an earlier age, where it is more troublesome than at a later age. Hence, early day care should not be promoted for reasons of preventing asthma and allergy."

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