Living near busy roadways ups chances of allergic asthma

A study in Lima, Peru, has found that the nearer teens live to heavily used roadways, the more likely are their chances of developing asthma. The study is the first to link heightened rates of allergic disease and exposure to traffic related pollution as a possible reason for increased rates of asthma along major transit routes. No previous study has looked at how busy roadways affect the origins of allergic asthma.

725 adolescents between 13 and 15 years of age were issued with a survey covering asthma symptoms, lung function, response to allergy skin testing and exhaled nitric oxide. Experts from Johns Hopkins calculated distances from the main avenue to all the households included in the study and measured indoor particulate matter in 100 households. Results showed that living in a closer proximity to a high-traffic-density avenue was associated with a greater risk of asthma symptoms and atopy, with atopy rates going up by 7% for every 300 feet closer to the road.

Senior study investigator and pulmonologist Dr William Checkley PhD would now like to try preventative strategies to reduce allergic exposure near roadways. Peru has the highest rates of asthma in Latin America, at 26%. 17 million Americans are affected by asthma. Checkley’s team also plans to carry out further studies on the underlying genetic profile of those more likely to develop asthma and atopy.

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

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First Published in January 2011

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