24 November 2004

Stress ups asthma risk in kids

Stress caused by events such as moving, changes in family relationships and death can raise a child's risks for asthma attacks four-fold, according to a study.

Stress caused by events such as moving, changes in family relationships and death can raise a child's risks for asthma attacks four-fold, according to a study in the latest issue of the journal Thorax.

The British study found that stressful life events were linked to bouts of acute asthma at two distinct time periods - first, within two days of the worrying event, and then again six weeks later.

How the research was done
Researchers from University College London studied 60 children, aged six to 13, who'd had asthma for at least three years. For 18 months, the children kept daily diaries in which they recorded acute asthma attacks and their breath strength (peak flow). The children were checked every three months at a clinic, and their parents were also interviewed about potentially stressful life events occurring over the same period of time.

The main stressful life events experienced by the children included moving, births, deaths, departures, illness/hospital visits, separations, and changes in family relationships. During the study period, the children in the study experienced a total of 124 stressful life events and recorded 361 episodes of rapidly worsening asthma symptoms.

Fourfold increase in asthma symptoms
When they analysed the data, the researchers concluded that the children were more than four times more likely to suffer a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms within a day or two of experiencing a stressful life event.

After a period of calm, the risk of worsening asthma symptoms suddenly doubled again about five to seven weeks after the stressful life event, the researchers add.

The immediate and delayed stress-related effects on asthma symptoms are likely caused by different physiological and immune processes involving the autonomic nervous system and hormone and brain chemical regulation, the researchers suggest. – (HealthDayNews)


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Professor Keertan Dheda has received of several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others.Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute

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