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 July 23, 2003
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Pediatric Asthma Associated with Exposure to Violence
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By Linda Schultz, D.V.M., Ph.D., Ivanhoe Health Correspondent

SEATTLE (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Data from the Inner City Asthma Study reveals that children's exposure to violence and their mother's perceived stress in relation to the violence increases the numbers of days children experience severe asthma symptoms.

These are the findings of a new study presented at the 99th International Conference of The American Thoracic Society by Rosalind Wright, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues, of Harvard School of Medicine. Other studies have shown caregiver stress is associated with increased risk of wheezing or asthma in their children. "We wanted to know if there was an association between exposure to community level violence ... and caretaker reported asthma symptoms," says Dr. Wright. More than 6.2 million youth ages 10 to 16 years old experience some form of assault or exposure to violence. One in eight are injured.

The study included 937 children who had asthma and their caretakers. The children ranged in age from 5 to 12.The researchers took baseline measures including home environment characteristics and smoke exposure. They surveyed the caregivers about their exposure to violence, including domestic violence, and violence in their neighborhoods. The researchers monitored the children for reported asthma symptoms and the numbers of days the caretakers lost sleep because of the child's asthma.

Overall, researchers found the more violence the caretaker was exposed to, the more days their children had asthmatic symptoms, even when the data was corrected for smoking, stress, and other parameters.

"I address [family violence] in my practice. My frustration is that as cuts are made in medicine, [physicians] have lost ancillary support and services that can help them respond to it," says Dr. Wright. The study has been accepted into the American Journal of Public Health.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.

SOURCE: Reported at the 99th International Conference of The American Thoracic Society, Seattle, May 16-21, 2003

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