Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Infant Allergies linked to Air Pollution
What can You Do to Protect Your Children?

Image by Genesis EcoFund: Shielding Infants from Air Pollution Could Help Prevent Allergies
"Allergic diseases constitute one of the most prevalent childhood illnesses. Several population studies have reported increased risks of developing allergy in relation to ambient air pollution exposure. However, there are only few studies on specific sensitization following children over longer time periods, with detailed assessment of exposure to air pollution.”
~ AAAAI American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology; January 2012
Landmark Canadian study surveyed 2,700 Children; Shows risk of Infant Exposure

We can add another study to the growing body of evidence that air pollution increases the chance of allergies and asthma in children. This new Canadian study is the first to link pollution and allergies to food, mould, pets and pests in infants.
"This study started by recruiting pregnant mothers in 2008. That continued until about 2012," Brauer told CBC News.

"The idea is to follow moms during pregnancy and the kids as they age, to look at the development of allergy and asthma in quite a detailed way."

"Those kids that had higher exposure to air pollution during their first year of life were at an increased risk of developing sensitivities and allergies," Brauer said.
Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/infant-allergies-linked-to-air-pollution-by-new-canadian-study-1.3060312
The study did not find a link between neo-natal exposure to pollution and allergies in children.

You can read the complete study by clicking the image/link below:

Image: Environmental Health Perspectives Infant Allergens Study

Of interest, was the finding that sensitivity rates appeared highest in Vancouver.

Image by Genesis EcoFund: Percentage of Children who develop sensitivity to Allergens, by City

Brauer told the CBC that the higher rates in Vancouver were not linked to air pollution but other factors, including the general affluence of the population in Vancouver.
"We know that populations that tend to be wealthier tend to have higher rates of allergies. Allergy is something that we seem to link to more affluent lifestyles, globally. So there may be something going on there," said Brauer.

"Of course there's other things: the vegetation, food, lifestyles — other factors that may differ between Vancouver and the other cities."
Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/infant-allergies-linked-to-air-pollution-by-new-canadian-study-1.3060312
General Effects of Air Pollution

Air pollution causes a range of respiratory symptoms, including
  • coughing,
  • throat irritation,
  • chest tightness,
  • wheezing,
  • shortness of breath
Higher air pollution levels have also been associated with a higher incidence of heart problems, including heart attacks, and toxic air pollutants can increase the risk of developing cancer. The following poster/pdf provides more information:


So What Can be Done?

Interestingly, the study found that several factors seemed to lower the risk of developing sensitivity to allergies, including:
  • A cat or dog in their house.
  • No attached garage on the house.
  • Eating dairy products, eggs, nuts or grains during the first year of life.
  • Attending daycare.
  • Having older siblings in the house.
The researchers also evaluated the use/type of the home’s ventilation system; with exposure to traffic-related air pollution assessed by measuring nitrogen dioxide levels at each child’s home address.

There seems to be an interesting connection between exposure to natural elements versus industrial ones. That is, exposure to pet hair, dander, etc. as well as other children or another sibling seemed to reduce sensitivity to allergens.

If we consider the ability of an indoor ecosystem to break down synthetic compounds and VOC’s, it seems like a natural extension to any preventative program to reduce allergies. Ecosystems  not only clean the air of pollution which many home ventilation  systems cannot filter, they also produce freshly oxygenated air, as well as ionized water vapour which acts like a magnet attracting airborne particles.

Genesis Eco Fund looks forward to the day when there is a critical mass of ecosystems in homes across Canada so similar studies can compare the effects of ecosystems on the development of sensitivities to allergies in children.

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