Asthma is a respiratory disease caused by chronic inflammation in the lung airways and is characterized by shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing and coughing. It affects an estimated 8.3% of Americans (26.5 million) with 6.1 million being children and 20.4 million being adults.
For the most part, asthma attacks are caused by viral respiratory infections that increase inflammation in the lung airways and cause them to narrow. A recent study has now revealed that air pollutants can also increase the risk of asthma attacks. The study found that an increased concentration of air pollutants, especially fine particulate matter and ozone, had a correlation with increased asthma attack risk in children living in urban areas.
A rise in air pollution levels was also associated with reduced lung function in children from urban centers. According to the researchers, higher concentrations of ozone and fine particulate matter are thought to aid in the activation of certain inflammatory pathways in the lung airways. The study authors stated that their findings suggested children who were exposed to low levels of air pollutants over several days were at risk of experiencing an asthma attack.
Commenting on the study, Dr. Antonella Zanobetti, an environmental health researcher at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, noted that the paper was very important as it identified an association between “asthma exacerbations and air pollution” without the presence of a “provoking respiratory virus.”
Dr. Allen Dozor, division chief of pulmonology and professor of pediatrics at New York Medical College, said that the majority of severe asthma events occur in conjunction with upper respiratory tract infections (URIs), which are quite common in children. Children living in urban areas with high air pollution levels tend to experience severe asthma attacks in higher frequencies when they have colds as the pollution in the air exacerbates the severity of their asthma attacks.
On top of ozone and fine particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide have also been associated with asthma attacks in children. Asthmatic children in neighborhoods in areas of a lower socioeconomic standard have a higher risk of experiencing more severe asthma attacks, possibly due to the higher levels of pollution in such neighborhoods. Dozor emphasized the importance of emphasizing that both nonviral and viral-associated asthma attacks can be worsened by high air pollution levels.
This study adds to the growing body of literature that has demonstrated the relationship between air pollution and the prevalence of asthma attacks.
As pediatric asthma cases skyrocket, companies such as BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) are working round the clock to develop more efficacious treatments that can combat the symptoms of this condition and give sufferers a chance at a better quality of life.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/BVXV
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