Risk of Childhood Allergy and Atopic Diseases Increased by Traffic Pollution

The risk of childhood allergy and atopic diseases is increased 50% by traffic-related pollution, according to a recent study by a German research organization.

“Children living very close to a major road are likely to be exposed not only to a higher amount of traffic-derived particles and gases but also to more freshly emitted aerosols which may be more toxic,” writes Dr. Heinrich. He continued: “Our findings provide strong evidence for the adverse effects of traffic-related air pollutants on atopic diseases as well as on allergic sensitization.”

The study’s author, Joachim Heinrich, Ph.D., of the German Research Center for Environment and Health at the Institute of Epidemiology, in Munich, checked close to 2900 children aged 4, and more than 3000 children aged 6 to establish their rates of asthma and allergy in relation to longterm exposure to traffic-related pollution.

Both groups of children came from the Munich area, and their exposure to traffic pollutants was calculated on the basis opf their homes’ distance from major roads at birth, and at two, three and six years of age. The parents completed questionnaires documenting their child’s respiratory symptoms and diagnoses, and the children were evaluated for asthma, wheezing, sneezing and eczema. The children were checked for food allergies at age six, and air was tested for particulate matter nd nitrogen dioxide at 40 high traffic areas between 1999 and 2000.

Significant positive associations were found between the distance to the nearest road and incidence of asthmatic bronchitis, hay fever, eczema and allergic sensitizations. Also noted was a relationship between proximity to a road and risk of allergic sensitization—subjects living closest to major roads had an almost 50% greater risk of allergic sensitization.

In this study, it was possible to determine that economic factors were not a confounding variable in the analysis, but there was a clear difference in the children’s allergic development with relation to their proximity to a road.

Source: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, June, 2008 (2nd ed)

Study Finds CO2 Relieves Seasonal Allergies

A recent Creighton University study shows that non-inhaled, intranasal carbon dioxide may be an effective treatment for many of the 40 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) due to pollens such as grass and ragweed.

Patients receiving CO2 reported improvement in congestion, sneezing and other nasal conditions within 10 minutes, and lasting 24 hours. Within 30 minutes of treatment, 50 percent of those taking CO2 reported more than a 50 percent improvement in nasal symptoms, compared to 27.6 percent in the placebo group.

The study used 89 subjects, 18 to 75 years of age, who had at least a two-year history of seasonal allergies requiring pharmacology. Of these, 60 received CO2, and 29 received plain air. Patients took the gas intranasally twice, once for each nostril, for a total dosage of 1,200 milliliters, avoiding inhaling the gas by breathing through the mouth, allowing the gas to flow in one nostril and out the other.

"It could be a good alternative for people who don’t want to take intranasal steroids," said Dr. Thomas B. Casale, MD, Chief of the Creighton School of Medicine’s Division of Allergy Immunology. He noted that despite currently available treatments, a significant number of patients with allergic rhinitis continue to suffer symptoms that impair their quality of life. The medical costs associated with SAR are estimated at $6 billion a year in the United States.

Thomas B. Casale, M.D., the study’s principal investigator, is president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and the study will be published in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

Source: Creighton University

Cats Can Hamper Breathing Even in Non-Allergic

Adults plagued by allergies can be affected by cat dander even if they aren’t specifically allergic to felines, a new European study shows.

“Exposure to cats is more of a problem than was thought,” said study author, Susan Chinn, a professor of medical statistics at the Imperial College, London.

Food allergies: One bite can be deadly

"He took a bite of the cookie and he said to his friend, ‘I shouldn’t have eaten that,’" said his mother. Severely allergic to peanuts, the 16-year-old from western Massachusetts made the dire mistake of not asking about the ingredients. Within minutes he developed a severe allergic reaction to the cookie, which contained peanuts.