American Thoracic Society Journal news tips for June

June 13, 2000

Drop in air pollution signals decline in bronchitis, colds, infections in children

The prevalence of physician-diagnosed bronchitis and middle ear infection, frequent colds, and infections with and without fever decreased among a large study group of school children 5 to 14 after a significant decline in air pollution in east Germany. Following German reunification, investigators checked ambient air pollution, which fell sharply, against the prevalence of bronchitis and other respiratory illness during studies in 1993 and 1995. They found a major decrease in the frequency of bronchitis and common colds, plus less cough. The research appears in the June issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Lung function continues to grow in adolescents

Lung function continues to grow in adolescents after height increases cease, with males showing a more marked effect which could be related to added muscle mass and strength. Australian researchers studied 557 adolescents, starting at age 8 and ending at 20, to demonstrate that growth in lung function continues after cessation of growth in stature. Boys had larger gains than girls. The investigators found no significant differences between the sexes related to the effect of asthma on lung function growth; the disease causes slower growth in airway caliber rather than in lung size. The research appears in the June issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

New safe pulmonary challenge test for very young children

A cold dry air respiratory challenge test could serve as a diagnostic tool for asthma in young children 2 to 5 years of age. Danish investigators studied lung function response to cold air challenge in 38 very young asthmatics who were matched with 29 control subjects. They measured the pulmonary responsiveness of each child after the challenge, detecting pulmonary hyperresponsiveness in 26 of 38 asthmatic children participating in the study. Only 2 of 29 control subjects were hyperresponsive. The cold dry air respiratory challenge is simpler than the pharmaceutical challenge test, and has no apparent side effects. The study appears in the June issue of the American Journal of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.
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American Thoracic Society

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