HMO databases offer an opportunity for community based epidemiologic studies of asthma incidence, etiology and treatment. The incidence of asthma in HMO populations and the utility of HMO data, including use of computerized algorithms and manual review of medical charts for determining etiologic factors has not been fully explored.
We identified adult-onset asthma, using computerized record searches in a New England HMO. Monthly, our software applied exclusion and inclusion criteria to identify an "at-risk" population and "potential cases". Electronic and paper medical records from the past year were then reviewed for each potential case. Persons with other respiratory diseases or insignificant treatment for asthma were excluded.
Confirmed adult-onset asthma (AOA) cases were defined as those potential cases with either new-onset asthma or reactivated mild intermittent asthma that had been quiescent for at least one year. We validated the methods by reviewing charts of selected subjects rejected by the algorithm.
The algorithm was 93 to 99.3% sensitive and 99.6% specific. Sixty-three percent (n = 469) of potential cases were confirmed as AOA. Two thirds of confirmed cases were women with an average age of 34.8 (SD 11.8), and 45% had no evidence of previous asthma diagnosis. The annualized monthly rate of AOA ranged from 4.1 to 11.4 per 1000 at-risk members. Physicians most commonly attribute asthma to infection (59%) and allergy (14%). New-onset cases were more likely attributed to infection, while reactivated cases were more associated with allergies. Medical charts included a discussion of work exposures in relation to asthma in only 32 (7%) cases. Twenty-three of these (72%) indicated there was an association between asthma and workplace exposures for an overall rate of work-related asthma of 4.9%.
Computerized HMO records can be successfully used to identify AOA. Manual review of these records is important to confirm case status and is useful in evaluation of provider consideration of etiologies. We demonstrated that clinicians attribute most AOA to infection and tend to ignore the contribution of environmental and occupational exposures.
Asthma is a multifactorial chronic disease affecting a significant proportion of people in the United States and worldwide. Numerous laboratory and epidemiological studies have attempted to understand the etiology and underlying mechanisms of asthma and to identify effective therapies. However, the impact of asthma on the risk for other diseases has drawn little attention. This paper discusses the potential effects of asthma as a risk factor for other diseases, explores the potential mechanisms, and reviews the implications of the findings to clinical practice, public health, and research.
Asthma; epidemiology; population; chronic diseases; risk; susceptibility
The heat shock proteins (Hsps) are induced by stresses such as allergic factors and inflammatory responses in bronchi epithelial cells and therefore may be detectable in patients with asthma. However, the etiologic link between anti-Hsps and asthma (its severity and related inflammatory responses such as interleukin-4 and immunoglobulin E) has not been established. We determined whether antibodies against Hsp60 and Hsp70 were present in patients with asthma and evaluated their associations with risk and severity of asthma.
We determined the levels of anti-Hsp60 and anti-Hsp70 by immunoblot and their associations with risk and symptom severity of asthma in 95 patients with asthma and 99 matched non-symptomatic controls using multivariate logistic regression analysis.
Compared to the controls, asthma patients were more likely to have detectable anti-Hsp60 (17.2% vs 5.1%) and anti-Hsp70 (33.7% vs 8.1%) (p ≤ 0.001). In particular, the presence of anti-Hsp70 was associated with a greater than 2 fold risk for asthma (adjusted OR = 2.21; 95% CI = 1.35~3.59). Furthermore, both anti-Hsp60 and anti-Hsp70 levels were positively correlated with symptom severity (p < 0.05) as well as interleukin-4 and immunoglobulin E (p < 0.05). Individuals with antibodies against anti-Hsp60 and anti-Hsp70 were more likely to have a family history of asthma (p < 0.001) and higher plasma concentrations of total immunoglobulin E (p = 0.001) and interleukin-4 (p < 0.05) than those without antibodies.
These data suggest that anti-Hsp60 and especially anti-Hsp70 correlate with the attacks and severity of asthma. The underlying molecular mechanisms linking antibodies to heat shock proteins and asthma remain to be investigated.
Vitamin D deficiency and asthma are common conditions that share risk factors such as African American ethnicity, inner-city residence, and obesity. This review provides a critical examination of current experimental and epidemiologic evidence of a causal association between vitamin D status and asthma or asthma morbidity, including potential protective mechanisms such as antiviral effects and enhanced steroid responsiveness. Because most published epidemiologic studies of vitamin D and asthma or asthma morbidity are observational, a recommendation for or against vitamin D supplementation as preventive or secondary treatment for asthma is not advisable and must await results of ongoing clinical trials. Should these trials confirm a beneficial effect of vitamin D, others will be needed to assess the role of vitamin D supplementation to prevent or treat asthma in different groups such as infants, children of school age, and ethnic minorities.
vitamin D; asthma; asthma morbidity
Asthma prevalence has increased over the last fifty years, but the more recent changes have not been conclusively determined. Studies in children indicate that a plateau in the prevalence of asthma may have been reached, but this has not yet been confirmed in adults. Epidemiological studies have suggested that the prevalence of asthma in adults is approximately 7-10% in different parts of the western world.
We have now performed a large-scale epidemiological evaluation of the prevalence of asthma and respiratory symptoms in adults between the ages of 16-75 in West Sweden. Thirty thousand randomly chosen individuals were sent a detailed questionnaire focusing on asthma and respiratory symptoms, as well possible risk factors. Sixty-two percent of the contacted individuals responded to the questionnaire. Asthma prevalence, defined as asthma diagnosed by a physician, was 8.3%. Moreover, the prevalence of respiratory symptoms was lower compared to previous studies. The most common respiratory symptom was any wheeze (16.6%) followed by sputum production (13.3%). In comparison with studies performed 18 years ago, the prevalence of asthma has not increased, and the prevalence of most respiratory symptoms has decreased. Therefore, our data argues that the continued increase in asthma prevalence that has been observed over the last half century is over.
The last few decades have witnessed a rise in the global prevalence of asthma with a number of risk factors being linked to this increase. Although there is insufficient data on the prevalence of asthma in Ghana, a few studies conducted in this country have shed light on the disease aetiology and associated risk factors.
The purpose of this review is to explore the literature on epidemiological studies on asthma carried out in Ghana and how these findings fit into the wider context of observations from other countries.
Asthma research in Ghana has focused mainly on children between the ages of 5–16 years with one published study that included adults. Different markers for the disease have been used such as clinician-diagnosed asthma, exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB) as well as questionnaire-derived symptoms of asthma. Factors found to be associated with asthma in Ghana include atopic sensitisation to environmental allergens, inner-city residence and socioeconomic differences. Other implicated factors are family history of asthma, sib-ship position, breast-feeding duration and helminth infections.
Future research in Ghana must establish the burden of disease among all age-groups as well as clearly differentiate between allergic and non-allergic asthma. Studies are also needed to examine the role of environmental air pollutants on the disease's pathogenesis.
Asthma; atopy; allergy; risk factors; urbanisation; Ghana; Sub-Saharan Africa
Epidemiologic studies of farm children are of international interest because farm children are less often atopic, have less allergic disease, and often have less asthma than do nonfarm children—findings consistent with the hygiene hypothesis. We studied a cohort of rural Iowa children to determine the association between farm and other environmental risk factors with four asthma outcomes: doctor-diagnosed asthma, doctor-diagnosed asthma/medication for wheeze, current wheeze, and cough with exercise. Doctor-diagnosed asthma prevalence was 12%, but at least one of these four health outcomes was found in more than a third of the cohort. Multivariable models of the four health outcomes found independent associations between male sex (three asthma outcomes), age (three asthma outcomes), a personal history of allergies (four asthma outcomes), family history of allergic disease (two asthma outcomes), premature birth (one asthma outcome), early respiratory infection (three asthma outcomes), high-risk birth (two asthma outcomes), and farm exposure to raising swine and adding antibiotics to feed (two asthma outcomes). The high prevalence of rural childhood asthma and asthma symptoms underscores the need for asthma screening programs and improved asthma diagnosis and treatment. The high prevalence of asthma health outcomes among farm children living on farms that raise swine (44.1%, p = 0.01) and raise swine and add antibiotics to feed (55.8%, p = 0.013), despite lower rates of atopy and personal histories of allergy, suggests the need for awareness and prevention measures and more population-based studies to further assess environmental and genetic determinants of asthma among farm children.
agricultural occupational exposures; ammonia; animal feeding operations; asthma; asthma diagnosis and treatment; asthma health care policy; asthma school screening; asthma underdiagnosis; asthma undertreatment; children; chronic wheeze; cough with exercise; farming; genetic selection; hydrogen sulfide; hygiene hypothesis; odor; rural
Epidemiological studies have suggested that female hormones might play a role in asthma and that menopausal hormone therapy (MHT or HRT) might increase the risk of asthma in postmenopausal women. The only prospective study addressing this issue reports an increase in the risk of developing asthma which was similar for estrogen alone and estrogen/progestagen treatment.
The association between the use of different types of MHT and the risk of asthma onset in postmenopausal women was investigated prospectively from 1990 to 2002 by biennial questionnaire as part of the French E3N cohort study. Asthma onset was considered to be the time of medical diagnosis of asthma cases occurring during the follow up of women who were asthma free at baseline. Cox proportional hazards models were used, adjusting for potential confounding factors.
Among 57,664 women free of asthma at menopause 569 incident cases of asthma were identified during 495,448 years of follow-up. MHT was related to an increased risk of asthma onset (HR= 1.20, 95% CI 0.98–1.46) among recent users. The increase in risk of asthma onset was only significant among women reporting the use of estrogen alone (HR= 1.54, 95% CI 1.13–2.09).particularly in never smokers (HR= 1.80 95% CI 1.15–2.80) and women reporting allergic disease prior to asthma onset (HR= 1.86 95% CI 1.18–2.93). A small increase in the risk of asthma onset associated with the use of estrogen/progestagen was also observed in these subgroups.
Postmenopausal use of estrogen alone was associated with an increased rate of newly diagnosed asthma in menopausal women.
Asthma; Epidemiology; Menopausal hormone therapy (MHT); Hormone replacement therapy (HRT); Asthma; chemically induced; epidemiology; Body Mass Index; Drug Combinations; Estrogen Replacement Therapy; adverse effects; utilization; Estrogens; adverse effects; Female; France; epidemiology; Humans; Middle Aged; Postmenopause; Progesterone; adverse effects; Prospective Studies; Risk Factors
The etiology and morbidity associated with asthma are thought to stem from both genetic factors and potentially modifiable environmental factors, such as viral infections.[1-7] Although it is unclear whether respiratory viral infections cause asthma, observational studies have demonstrated a high rate of asthma in children with a history of severe viral lower respiratory tract infections during infancy, and viruses are the associated with the majority of asthma exacerbations among both children and adults. This review will discuss the pathogens associated with virus-induced wheezing illnesses during infancy and early childhood, the association of bronchiolitis during infancy with an increased risk of childhood asthma, and the association of respiratory viruses with asthma exacerbations in older children and adults.
viruses; respiratory tract infections; asthma
Asthma afflicts 6% to 8% of the United States population, and severe asthma represents approximately 10% of asthmatic patients. Several epidemiologic studies in the United States and Europe have linked Alternaria sensitivity to both persistence and severity of asthma. In order to begin to understand genetic risk factors underlying Alternaria sensitivity and asthma, in these studies we examined T cell responses to Alternaria antigens, HLA Class II restriction and HLA-DQ protection in children with severe asthma.
Sixty children with Alternaria-sensitive moderate-severe asthma were compared to 49 children with Alternaria-sensitive mild asthma. We examined HLA-DR and HLA-DQ frequencies in Alternaria-sensitive asthmatic by HLA typing. To determine ratios of Th1/Th2 Alternaria-specific T-cells, cultures were stimulated in media alone, Alternaria alternata extract and Alt a1. Sensitivity to IL-4 stimulation was measured by up-regulation of CD23 on B cells.
Children with Alternaria-sensitive moderate-severe asthma trended to have increased sensitivities to Cladosporium (46% versus 35%), to Aspergillus (43% versus 28%), and significantly increased sensitivities to trees (78% versus 57%) and to weeds (68% versus 48%). The IL-4RA ile75val polymorphism was significantly increased in Alternaria-sensitive moderate-severe asthmatics, 83% (0.627 allele frequency) compared to Alternaria-sensitive mild asthmatics, 57% (0.388 allele frequency). This was associated with increased sensitivity to IL-4 stimulation measured by significantly increased IL-4 stimulated CD23 expression on CD19+ and CD86+CD19+ B cells of Alternaria-sensitive moderate-severe asthmatics. IL-5 and IL-13 synthesis was significantly increased in Alternaria-sensitive moderate-severe asthmatics compared to mild asthmatics to Alternaria extract and Alt a1 stimulation. The frequency of HLA-DQB1*03 allele was significantly decreased in Alternaria-sensitive moderate-severe asthmatics compared to mild asthmatics, 39% versus 63%, with significantly decreased allele frequency, 0.220 versus 0.398.
In children with Alternaria-sensitive moderate severe asthma, there was an increased Th2 response to Alternaria stimulation and increased sensitivity to IL-4 stimulation. This skewing towards a Th2 response was associated with an increased frequency of the IL-4RA ile75val polymorphism. In evaluating the HLA association, there was a decreased frequency of HLA-DQB1*03 in Alternaria-sensitive moderate severe asthmatic children consistent with previous studies suggest that HLA-DQB1*03 may be protective against the development of mold-sensitive severe asthma.
Rationale: Virus-induced wheezing episodes in infancy often precede the development of asthma. Whether infections with specific viral pathogens confer differential future asthma risk is incompletely understood.
Objectives: To define the relationship between specific viral illnesses and early childhood asthma development.
Methods: A total of 259 children were followed prospectively from birth to 6 years of age. The etiology and timing of specific viral wheezing respiratory illnesses during early childhood were assessed using nasal lavage, culture, and multiplex reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction. The relationships of these virus-specific wheezing illnesses and other risk factors to the development of asthma were analyzed.
Measurements and Main Results: Viral etiologies were identified in 90% of wheezing illnesses. From birth to age 3 years, wheezing with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) (odds ratio [OR], 2.6), rhinovirus (RV) (OR, 9.8), or both RV and RSV (OR , 10) was associated with increased asthma risk at age 6 years. In Year 1, both RV wheezing (OR, 2.8) and aeroallergen sensitization (OR, 3.6) independently increased asthma risk at age 6 years. By age 3 years, wheezing with RV (OR, 25.6) was more strongly associated with asthma at age 6 years than aeroallergen sensitization (OR, 3.4). Nearly 90% (26 of 30) of children who wheezed with RV in Year 3 had asthma at 6 years of age.
Conclusions: Among outpatient viral wheezing illnesses in infancy and early childhood, those caused by RV infections are the most significant predictors of the subsequent development of asthma at age 6 years in a high-risk birth cohort.
rhinovirus; respiratory syncytial virus; wheezing; asthma; allergic sensitization
The prevalence and severity of asthma has increased in the last 20 years, and the greatest increase has been seen among children and young adults living in U.S. inner cities. The reasons for this increase are obviously complex, but include environmental exposures to allergens and pollutants, changing patterns of medication, and the psychosocial stresses of living in poor inner-city neighborhoods. This paper presents an overview of environmental, immunologic, and genetic factors associated with asthma morbidity and mortality. This overview can be used to provide a framework for designing an interdisciplinary research program to address the complexities of asthma etiology and exacerbation. The strongest epidemiologic association has been found between asthma morbidity and the exposure of immunologically sensitive asthmatic patients to airborne allergens. Our current understanding of the process of sensitization suggests that there is a strong genetic predisposition to form IgE to allergenic proteins on airborne particles. Much of this work has been conducted with animal models, but in a number of instances, specific confirmation has been reported in humans. Sensitized individuals respond to inhaled exposure with immediate mast-cell dependent inflammation that may be augmented by pollutant particles, especially diesel exhaust particles. Relatively little is known about the methods of assessing exposure to airborne pollutants, especially biologically active particulates. However, to examine the relationship of morbidity in genetically predisposed individuals, it will be important to determine the most relevant method of making this assessment.
Pulmonary disease prevalence increases with age and contributes to morbidity and mortality in older patients. Dyspnea in older patients is often ascribed to multiple etiologies such as medical comorbidities and deconditioning. Common pulmonary disorders are frequently overlooked as contributors to dyspnea in older patients. In addition to negative impacts on morbidity and mortality, quality of life is reduced in older patients with uncontrolled, undertreated pulmonary symptoms. The purpose of this review is to discuss the epidemiology of common pulmonary diseases, namely pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, lung cancer, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in older patients. We will review common clinical presentations for these diseases and highlight differences between younger and older patients. We will also briefly discuss risk factors, treatment, and mortality associated with these diseases. Finally, we will address the relationship between comorbidities, pulmonary symptoms, and quality of life in older patients with pulmonary diseases.
Pulmonary diseases; Older persons; Dyspnea; Comorbidity; Quality of life
The purpose of this article is to review indoor air pollution factors that can modify asthma severity, particularly in inner-city environments. While there is a large literature linking ambient air pollution and asthma morbidity, less is known about the impact of indoor air pollution on asthma. Concentrating on the indoor environments is particularly important for children, since they can spend as much as 90% of their time indoors. This review focuses on studies conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Childhood Asthma in the Urban Environment as well as other relevant epidemiologic studies. Analysis of exposure outcome relationships in the published literature demonstrates the importance of evaluating indoor home environmental air pollution sources as risk factors for asthma morbidity. Important indoor air pollution determinants of asthma morbidity in urban environments include particulate matter (particularly the coarse fraction), nitrogen dioxide, and airborne mouse allergen exposure. Avoidance of harmful environmental exposures is a key component of national and international guideline recommendations for management of asthma. This literature suggests that modifying the indoor environment to reduce particulate matter, NO2, and mouse allergen may be an important asthma management strategy. More research documenting effectiveness of interventions to reduce those exposures and improve asthma outcomes is needed.
particulate matter; air pollution; pediatric; urban; bronchial hyperreactivity
OBJECTIVES—To develop a method suitable for estimating exposure risks in population studies of asthma from job titles and international codes, by combining a new job exposure matrix (JEM) with the expert judgement approach. The method was applied in the French epidemiological study of the genetics and environment in asthma (EGEA).
METHODS—The JEM contains 22 exposure groups including 18 high risk groups based on known risk factors for occupational asthma, divided into high molecular weight agents, low molecular weight agents, and mixed environments. After applying the JEM to job codes, exposure estimates for each subject were re-evaluated by examining job title texts. Three high risk exposure estimates for asthma were compared: firstly, applying the JEM to original codes (from different coders in each study centre); secondly, applying the JEM to revised codes (from one experienced coder); and thirdly, after reviewing JEM exposure estimates in the light of job title texts.
RESULTS—The study comprised 173 cases with asthma and 285 controls (age 18-65). Odds ratios (ORs) for asthma for high risk jobs were 1.0 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.6 to 1.7), applying the JEM to original codes; 1.4 (95% CI 0.8 to 2.3), applying the JEM to revised codes; and 1.7 (95% CI 1.1 to 2.7), applying the JEM and subsequently re-evaluating exposure estimates from job title texts. Asthma ORs were 1.4 (95% CI 0.6 to 2.9) for high molecular weight agents, 2.3 (95% CI 1.2 to 4.4) for low molecular weight agents, and 2.1 (95% CI 0.9 to 5.2) for mixed environments.
CONCLUSIONS—This asthma JEM, when enhanced by expert re-evaluation of exposure estimates from job title texts, may be a useful tool in general population studies of asthma. In this study, a 1.7-fold increase in prevalence odds of high risk exposures was found among asthmatic workers compared with controls, with risk magnitude varying for different classes of exposure.
Keywords: job exposure matrix; asthma; occupational exposure; epidemiological methods; case-control
Purpose of the review
In the clinical setting, patients who present with a combination of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) related traits are not uncommon. This review discusses recent advances in the characterization of the natural course, phenotypes, and molecular markers of cases with co-existing asthma and COPD and in the understanding of the nature of the link between these two conditions.
Recent epidemiological evidence indicates that asthma accounts for a substantial proportion of cases of irreversible airflow limitation in the general population and that, in addition to the critical role of environmental exposures in adult age, alterations of developmental processes in childhood may also predispose subjects with asthma to COPD later in life. Findings from clinical and experimental studies emphasize the existence of remarkable heterogeneity within the group of subjects with co-existing asthma and COPD in terms of natural history of lung function, risk factors for disease progression, lung structural changes, and immunological profiles.
The phenotypic complexity of cases with co-existing asthma and COPD challenges a rigid categorization of patients into existing diagnostic labels and suggests the importance of integrating clinical, functional, morphologic, immunological, and molecular assessments to tailor and optimize prevention and treatment.
asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; chronic bronchitis; emphysema
Wheezing is a lower respiratory tract symptom induced by various viral respiratory infections. Epidemiological studies have revealed the phenotypes of wheezing in early childhood which have different risk factors for the development of asthma among school age children. The major viral species causing wheezing in children include respiratory syncytial virus, rhinovirus, human metapneumovirus and influenza viruses. It has been shown that the impact on the development of asthma is different between those virus species. Moreover, recent studies have also focused on the interaction between virus infection and other risk factors in the development of asthma, such as genetic factors or allergic sensitization. In this review, we summarize the previous findings and discuss how clinicians can effectively intervene in these viral infections to prevent the development of asthma.
wheezing; viral respiratory infection; cohort study; interferon; respiratory syncytial virus; rhinovirus
Asthma has emerged as an important public health problem of urban populations in Latin America. Epidemiological data suggest that a minority of asthma cases in Latin America may be associated with allergic sensitisation and that other mechanisms causing asthma have been overlooked. The aim of the present study was to investigate risk factors for atopic and non-atopic asthma in school-age children.
A cross-sectional study was conducted among 3960 children aged 6–16 years living in Afro-Ecuadorian rural communities in Esmeraldas province in Ecuador. Allergic diseases and risk factors were assessed by questionnaire and allergic sensitisation by allergen skin prick reactivity.
A total of 390 (10.5%) children had wheeze within the previous 12 months, of whom 14.4% had at least one positive skin test. The population-attributable fraction for recent wheeze associated with atopy was 2.4%. Heavy Trichuris trichiura infections were strongly inversely associated with atopic wheeze. Non-atopic wheeze was positively associated with maternal allergic symptoms and sedentarism (watching television (>3 h/day)) but inversely associated with age and birth order.
The present study showed a predominance of non-atopic compared with atopic wheeze among schoolchildren living in a poor rural region of tropical Latin America. Distinct risk factors were associated with the two wheeze phenotypes and may indicate different causal mechanisms. Future preventive strategies in such populations may need to be targeted at the causes of non-atopic wheeze.
Asthma; asthma epidemiology; atopy; children; Ecuador; risk factors
Numerous occupational and environmental exposures that increase asthma risk have been identified. Research and prevention have focused primarily on the respiratory tract. However, recent studies suggest that the skin may also be an important route of exposure and site of sensitization that contributes to asthma development. Factors that impair skin barrier function, such as filaggrin gene mutations or skin trauma, may facilitate allergen entry and promote Th2-like sensitization and subsequent asthma. Animal studies demonstrate that skin exposure to chemical and protein allergens is highly effective at inducing sensitization, with subsequent inhalation challenge eliciting asthmatic responses. A similar role for human skin exposure to certain sensitizing agents, such as isocyanates, is likely. Skin exposure methodologies are being developed to incorporate skin exposure assessment into epidemiology studies investigating asthma risk factors.
skin exposure; asthma; isocyanates; epidermal barrier function; sensitization
Asthma exacerbations may be triggered by a number of atmospheric and domiciliary environmental factors as well as by those encountered in schools and workplaces. The majority of exacerbations, particularly in children, coincide with respiratory viral infections, most commonly rhinovirus. As most respiratory viruses and many aeroallergens appear in seasonal patterns, asthma exacerbations, particularly those requiring emergency treatment, show analogous seasonal cycles which differ in form in children and adults. While similar in form between the sexes, they differ in amplitude, with boys having higher risks of exacerbation in childhood and women in adult life. Simultaneous exposure of asthmatics with respiratory viral infections to allergens or air pollutants may significantly increase the risks of exacerbation. Access to and compliance with inhaled corticosteroid treatment is an important predictor of the likelihood of asthma exacerbations occurring, including those that occur during respiratory viral infections. Epidemiologically, the degree of asthma control achieved by asthmatics is an important predictor of the likelihood of disease exacerbation including respiratory failure, death, and health service consumption.
asthma; exacerbation; epidemiology; seasons; allergen; anti‐asthmatic drugs
Asthma is a common but complex respiratory disease caused by the interaction of genetic and environmental factors. Significant racial and ethnic disparities in prevalence, mortality, and drug response have been described. These disparities may be explained by racial and ethnic-specific variation in genetic, environmental, social and psychological risk factors. In addition, race, ethnicity, and social class are important proxies for unmeasured factors that influence health outcomes. Herein, we review salient differences in the etiologies of asthma by race, ethnicity and social class, and argue for their continued use as variables in asthma research.
Asthma; race; ethnicity; social class; interactions
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and rhinovirus infections are the most common significant infant respiratory illnesses and are associated with increased but differential risks of childhood asthma.
Determine whether maternal asthma is associated with higher odds of infant respiratory infection with rhinovirus versus RSV and increased infection severity.
Mother-infant dyads were enrolled 2004–2008 during an infant respiratory infection (104 rhinovirus, 279 RSV). Mothers were classified into mutually exclusive groups (atopic asthma, non-atopic asthma, no asthma). We determined viral etiology by polymerase chain reaction and severity of infant respiratory infection by bronchiolitis severity score. Adjusted relative odds of maternal asthma with viral etiology were calculated using logistic regression. Proportional odds models assessed the association of maternal asthma and infant infection severity.
Infants with a mother with atopic asthma compared to infants whose mothers did not have asthma were more likely to have rhinovirus versus RSV infection (adjusted odds ratio 2.42 [95% CI: 1.19–4.90]). Similarly, among infants with rhinovirus, having a mother with atopic asthma was associated with increased infection severity (adjusted odds ratio 3.10, 95% CI 1.21–7.98). This relationship was not seen among infants with RSV.
Clinically significant rhinovirus infection during infancy was more strongly associated with having a mother with atopic asthma than clinically significant RSV infection. Having a mother with atopic asthma was associated with increased severity of infant rhinovirus, but not RSV infections. Infants with rhinovirus were more likely to have a familial atopic predisposition, which may partly explain subsequent increased asthma risk.
Atopic predisposition; acute respiratory infection; rhinovirus; respiratory syncytial virus; asthma
Obesity, metabolic syndrome, and asthma are all rapidly increasing globally. Substantial emerging evidence suggests that these three conditions are epidemiologically and mechanistically linked. Since the link between obesity and asthma appears to extend beyond mechanical pulmonary disadvantage, molecular understanding is necessary. Insulin resistance is a strong, independent risk factor for asthma development, but it is unknown whether a direct effect of insulin on the lung is involved. This review summarizes current knowledge regarding the effect of insulin on cellular components of the lung and highlights the molecular consequences of insulin-related metabolic signaling cascades that could adversely affect lung structure and function. Examples include airway smooth muscle proliferation and contractility and regulatory signaling networks that are associated with asthma. These aspects of insulin signaling provide mechanistic insight into the clinical evidence for the links between obesity, metabolic syndrome, and airway diseases, setting the stage for novel therapeutic avenues targeting these conditions.
BACKGROUND—A study was
undertaken to assess whether the recent increases in prevalence of both
asthma and obesity are linked and to determine if obesity is a risk
factor for diagnosed asthma, symptoms, use of asthma medication, or
METHODS—Data from 1971 white adults aged 17-73 years from three large epidemiological studies
performed in NSW were pooled. Doctor diagnosis of asthma ever, history
of wheeze, and medication use in the previous 12 months were obtained
by questionnaire. Body mass index (BMI) in kg/m2 was used
as a measure of obesity. Airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) was defined
as dose of <3.9 µmol histamine required to provoke a fall in forced
expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) of 20% or more
(PD20FEV1). Adjusted odds ratios (OR) were
obtained by logistic regression.
adjusting for atopy, age, sex, smoking history, and family history,
severe obesity was a significant risk factor for recent asthma (OR
2.04, p=0.048), wheeze in the previous 12 months (OR 2.6, p=0.001), and
medication use in the previous 12 months (OR 2.83, p=0.005), but not
for AHR (OR 0.87, p=0.78). FEV1 and forced vital capacity
(FVC) were significantly reduced in the group with severe obesity, but
FEV1/FVC ratio, peak expiratory flow (PEF), and mid forced
expiratory flow (FEF25-75) were not different from the
group with normal BMI. The underweight group (BMI
<18.5 kg/m2) had increased symptoms of shortness of
breath, increased airway responsiveness, and reduced FEV1,
FVC, PEF, and FEF25-75 with similar use of asthma
medication as subjects in the normal weight range.
subjects with severe obesity reported more wheeze and shortness of
breath which may suggest a diagnosis of asthma, their levels of atopy,
airway hyperresponsiveness, and airway obstruction did not support the
suggestion of a higher prevalence of asthma in this group. The
underweight group appears to have more significant respiratory problems
with a higher prevalence of symptoms, reduced lung function, and
increased airway responsiveness without an increase in medication
usage. This group needs further investigation.
Previous epidemiologic studies have shown an inverse association between a personal history of atopy/allergies, both overall and among asthma, eczema, and hay fever investigated separately, and childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with some consistency; however, in most of these studies, exposure data were collected by maternal interview. Now, in a population-based and records-based study in this issue of the Journal (Am J Epidemiol. 2012;176(11):970–978), Chang et al. report an increased risk for allergic conditions across different etiologic time periods, calling the former paradigm into doubt. A review of the basic biology literature shows that proposed mechanisms support either a positive or an inverse association. In light of this ambiguity, it is epidemiology's turn to determine the direction of association.
child; hypersensitivity; leukemia