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Air Pollution Independently Linked to Asthma Exacerbations

Independent associations seen and validated in two cohorts of children living in urban areas

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 6, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Air pollution is an independent risk factor for asthma exacerbations among children living in urban areas, according to a study published in the January issue of The Lancet Planetary Health.

Matthew C. Altman, M.D., from the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues examined the association between regional air pollutant concentrations and asthma exacerbations occurring in the absence of respiratory virus among children with asthma. Data were analyzed from the MUPPITS1 cohort, which recruited 208 children aged 6 to 17 years living in urban areas with exacerbation-prone asthma, and validated in the ICATA cohort, which included 419 participants aged 6 to 20 years living in urban sites with persistent allergic asthma. The analysis included 168 participants from the MUPPITS1 cohort and 189 from the ICATA cohort.

The researchers found that increased air quality index values that were mainly driven by increased fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone (O3) concentrations were significantly associated with asthma exacerbations and decreases in pulmonary function; these occurred in the absence of viral infection. Individual pollutants were significantly associated with alterations in gene expression in inflammatory pathways, including PM2.5 and O3, which were associated with increased epithelial induction of tissue kallikreins, mucus hypersecretion, and barrier functions and increased type 2 inflammation, respectively.

“These data add to the growing body of evidence supporting the need to reduce outdoor air pollution as a means to decrease respiratory illnesses and asthma-related morbidity in children living in urban areas,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries.

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