Environmental Factors Do Not Largely Impact Asthma Control in Children

When following proper asthma protocol, parents may not have to worry about other outside factors, such as pets and secondhand cigarette smoke, affecting improvements in their children’s asthma, recent research suggests. 

Children aged between 2 and 17 years (median age, 6) with uncontrolled asthma (n = 395) were enrolled in the three-year prospective cohort study. Asthma control was evaluated every three to six months and compared between patients with or without secondhand cigarette smoke exposure (from a caretaker) and between patients with or without a cat or dog at home. Most patients’ persistent asthma was mild (n = 101 [26%]) or moderate (n = 265 [67%]). Secondhand tobacco exposure was present in 98 (25%) children, and 215 (55%) had exposure to a cat or dog at home. 

At three to six months’ follow-up, researchers observed among all patients significant improvement in acute need care scores (hospital admissions, emergency department visits, urgent care visits, primary care visits, school days missed, short courses of oral steroids, and number of days requiring albuterol, as well as mean percent predicted FEV1, mean Asthma Control Test score, and asthma symptoms [number of days with wheezing and nighttime cough]), and improvement persisted at three years. Environmental factors did not significantly impact asthma improvement over time. 

The study’s findings were published in the CHEST Journal and presented at CHEST 2018, the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians. 

Dr. Christopher Carroll, medical director and research director for pediatric critical care at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, told MedPage Today, “These researchers showed that adherence to asthma treatment guidelines was more important than pet exposure, in terms of improving asthma symptoms over time.” Carroll was not involved in the study. 

The study authors concluded, “Once asthma guidelines are followed, environmental exposure to pets or second hand tobacco smoke were not significant factors in overall asthma improvement over time.” 

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Source: CHEST Journal