Vol. 18 •Issue 18 • Page 30
Research Shows Parents Can Cut Risks for Their Newborns
Jessica was six months pregnant with here first child. Doctors told her she was having a boy. While Jessica and her husband John awaited their new arrival, they found they had a lot of work to do, not the usual work like buying baby clothes and getting a nursery in order. They had finished that kind of stuff weeks ago.
Both proud parents-to-be are asthmatics. Recently they had read in a magazine that if they did certain things around the house now, they could reduce the prevalence of their newborn developing asthma.
So the expectant mother and father busily cleaned the house, especially the baby’s room as a part of their asthma intervention efforts.
Canadian researchers studied the affects of an asthma intervention program on young children. Their study, which showed a 60 percent decrease in persistent asthma in children at two years of age, was featured in the April 2004 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), a peer-reviewed scientific journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).
We studied high-risk infants with an immediate family history of asthma and allergies, wrote study author Moira Chan-Yeung, MB, and colleagues from the Canadian Childhood Asthma Prevention Study. “The children were assigned to either a study or control group.”
According to researchers, intervention measures were introduced to study group participants before birth and during the first year of life. These measures included avoidance of house dust mites, pets and second-hand smoke; encouragement of breast feeding; and delayed introduction of solid foods during the first 12 months of life.
Cutting the Risks
“When children reached age seven, 469 included in the study completed a questionnaire asking about respiratory symptoms, and the frequency, severity and medication for treatment of wheezing attacks in the past 12 months,” wrote study authors. Some 380 of the children returned for further assessment by a pediatric allergist and underwent breathing tests to determine the degree of airway hyper-responsiveness, a typical feature of asthma.
Canadian researchers found the intervention measures significantly reduced the frequency of asthma by as much as 56 percent. In addition, the prevalence of asthma was significantly lower in the intervention group than in the control group.
“Intervention during the first year of life has the potential to decrease the long-term risk for asthma development,” study authors hypothesized.
Researchers plan to assess the children at 11 to 12 years to determine whether the intervention program can be effective in decreasing the life-long risk for asthma or whether it has merely postponed the onset of the disease.
Jessica and John are doing all they can to reduce their new arrival’s risk at home. However, since they are both planning to continue working they will need to find a day care center to look after their little one. Day care can throw a curve ball in their entire plan to keep their newborn away from allergens, according to new research.
Watch Out for Day Care
A July 2005 article in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (JACI) reported that day care facilities were shown to be an important source for allergen exposure for children.
In this study, Samuel J. Arbes, DDS, MPH, PhD, et al. of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences examined the levels of seven indoor allergens which included dogs, cats, mice, American and European dust mites, fungi and cockroaches in 89 day care facilities in two North Carolina counties.
Researchers administered questionnaires and collected dust samples from the room where children spent the most time at each facility. They collected either carpet samples or hard surfaces samples or one of each if both were present.
In a majority of the day care facilities examined, researchers discovered detectable levels of each allergen. The most common allergens detected were from dogs and cats, even when these pets were not present in a majority of the facilities.
“This study provides evidence that day care settings are an important source of exposure to indoor allergens,” wrote Arbes. “Further research should be conducted to examine relationships between allergen exposure in day-care faculties and the effect on the health of children and day-care workers.”
Those results are troubling news for first time parents Jessica and John who are already taking measure to ensure their new baby is happy and healthy.
Marc Willis is a South Carolina television reporter.