Efforts in Infancy May Prevent Childhood Asthma

Measures cut disease risk by 56 percent, study found

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FRIDAY, June 3, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Timely asthma-prevention measures conducted when a child is still in infancy may help prevent asthma in later childhood, researchers report.

One such program greatly reduced asthma rates in high-risk children by the time they were 7 years old, according to a Canadian study published Friday in the online version of the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

Researchers involved in the Canadian Childhood Asthma Prevention Study tracked the health outcomes of infants deemed to be at high risk for developing asthma due to an immediate family history of asthma and allergies.

Those in the study group took part in an asthma intervention program for the first year of their life that included avoidance of pets, secondhand smoke and dust mites, along with delaying the introduction of solid foods while encouraging breast-feeding. Another group of children did not receive these interventions.

As the children reached 7 years of age, the researchers collected data from 469 of the youngsters on respiratory symptoms and their frequency, plus the severity and use of medication for treatment of wheezing attacks within the previous year. A total of 380 children returned later for further assessment by a doctor, including breathing tests.

According to the researchers, the early intervention program reduced asthma frequency by 56 percent by age 7. Overall, the rate of asthma was significantly lower in the intervention group than in the control group (14.9 percent vs. 23 percent), the study found.

The researchers say they plan assess the children again as they reach 11 to 12 years of age, to determine whether the intervention program merely postponed the onset of asthma or whether it may be effective in decreasing lifelong risk for the disease.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about childhood asthma.

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, news release, June 3, 2005

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