By Kirsty Oswald, November 18, 2013
medwireNews: European research shows that exposure to elevated
levels of air pollutants is associated with an increased risk for
pneumonia before the age of 3 years, and particularly in the first year
However, the researchers did not find strong evidence of a
link between pollution and other respiratory infections, including
otitis media and croup.
Joachim Heinrisch (German Research Centre
for Environmental Health, Munich) and colleagues analyzed data from 10
birth cohorts, as part of the European Study of Cohorts of Air Pollution
Effects (ESCAPE) project.
Their data included 16,059 children and
the cumulative incidence of pneumonia before the age of 3 years was
1.5–7.9%, of otitis media was 21.8–50.0%, and of croup was 10.6–12.9%.
team found that, after adjustment for confounders, the odds for
pneumonia were significantly greater with increasing exposure to several
pollutants, including NO2, NOx, particulate matter up to 10 µm (PM10), and coarse PM (PM2.5-10).
Additionally, increasing proximity to the nearest street or major
streets was also associated with the likelihood of pneumonia.
However, the only other significant association found was between otitis media and NO2, for which the odds increased 1.09-fold for every 10 µg/m3 increase.
the authors report that the association between pneumonia and air
pollutant exposure was particularly strong during the first year of
life. For example, every 5 µg/m3 increase in PM2.5
was associated with a 4.06-fold increased odds for pneumonia in the
first year of life, and a nonsignificant 2.65-fold increased odds in the
second. Indeed, in the second year of life, only NO2 and NOx exposure were significantly related to pneumonia risk, compared with all measures of pollution in the first year.
finding could highlight a unique period of susceptibility when children
are at increased risk of respiratory infections due to air pollution,”
comment Heinrisch et al in Environmental Health Perspectives.
conclude: “Policies aimed at reducing air pollution may be successful
in reducing the overall burden of pneumonia in early childhood.”
(www.medwirenews.com) is an independent clinical news service provided
by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013
Free full text [pdf]