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Arch Hellen Med, 28(5), September-October 2011, 621-629


Air pollution as a cause of asthma in children – A review

E. Papadimitriou,1 D. Karagiannis,2 E. Riza,1 A. Linos1,3
1Department of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, School of Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens,
2"Hippokration" General Hospital, Athens,
3Institute of Preventive Medicine, Environmental and Occupational Health, "Prolepsis", Athens, Greece

Bronchial asthma is a very common chronic disease in childhood. It is responsible for the majority of children's medical consultations, and is the most common cause of hospitalization of children and of school absenteeism, when compared to other chronic and respiratory diseases in childhood. The full extent of the causal factors of bronchial asthma is still not known, but it appears that genetic and environmental factors are both implicated. Recently, it has been shown that air pollution contributes greatly to the development of the disease and to the increase in the frequency and the severity of asthmatic attacks. Air pollutants appear to play a decisive role in the onset and the deterioration of bronchial asthma in childhood. The aim of this review was to investigate the scientific literature on the causal factors of the disease, and specifically air pollution, correlated with the onset of bronchial asthma, as an acute and chronic disease of childhood. The published scientific evidence points towards a causal relationship between air pollution and chronic bronchial asthma. A statistically significant association has been documented between air pollution and children's medical consultations, hospital admissions and office visits. Living in an industrial area further contributes to the onset of bronchial asthma. Apart from the development of typical bronchial asthmatic symptoms, air pollution is associated with restriction of respiratory function, and with respiratory underdevelopment in children.

Key words: Air pollution, Ambient environment, Asthma, Childhood, Industrial areas.

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