Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting one in eight children in the USA and worldwide. It is a complex disease, influenced by both environmental exposures and genetic factors. Although epigenetic modifications (DNA methylation, histone modification and miRNA) can affect transcriptional activity in multiple genetic pathways relevant for asthma development, very limited work has been carried out so far to examine the role of epigenetic variations on asthma development and management. This review provides a brief overview of epigenetic modifications, summarizes recent findings, and discusses some of the major methodological concerns that are relevant for asthma epigenetics.
asthma; DNA methylation; epidemiology; epigenetics; genetics; histone modifications; miRNA; natural history; risk factors
Inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS, encoded by NOS2) is the major enzyme for nitric oxide synthesis in airways. As such, measurement of exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) provides an in vivo assessment of iNOS activity. Short-term exposure to air pollution, haplotypes and DNA methylation in NOS2 promoter have been associated independently with iNOS expression and/or FeNO.
We aimed to examine the effects of ambient air pollutants, NOS2 promoter haplotypes and NOS2 promoter methylation on FeNO level in children.
We selected 940 participants in the Children’s Health Study who provided buccal samples and had undergone FeNO measurement on the same day. DNA methylation was measured using a bisulfite-polymerase chain reaction Pyrosequencing assay. Seven single nucleotide polymorphisms captured the haplotype diversity in the NOS2 promoter. Average particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter ≤2.5μm and ≤10μm (PM2.5 and PM10), ozone and nitrogen dioxide levels 7 days before FeNO measurement were estimated based on air pollution data obtained at central monitoring sites.
We found interrelated effects of PM2.5, NOS2 promoter haplotypes and iNOS methylation on FeNO. Elevated 7-day average PM2.5 exposure was associated with lower iNOS methylation (P=.01). NOS2 promoter haplotypes were globally associated with NOS2 promoter methylation (P=6.2 × 10−8). There was interaction among one common promoter haplotype, iNOS methylation level and PM2.5 exposure on FeNO (Pinteraction=.00007).
Promoter variants in NOS2 and short term PM2.5 exposure affect iNOS methylation. This is one of the first studies showing contributions of genetic and epigenetic variations in air pollution mediated phenotype expression.
air pollution; biomarker; DNA methylation; epigenetics; genetics; gene-environment interaction; nitrosative stress
Asthma is a common disease with a complex risk architecture including both genetic and environmental factors. We performed a meta-analysis of North American genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of asthma in 5,416 asthma cases representing European Americans, African Americans/African Caribbeans, and Latinos, and replicated five regions among the most significant signals in 12,649 individuals from the same ethnic groups. Four were at previously reported loci on 17q21, and near the IL1RL1, TSLP, and IL33, genes, but we report for the first time that these loci are associated with asthma risk in three ethnic groups. In addition, we identified a novel association with asthma in the PYHIN1, gene that was specific to individuals of African descent (p=3.9×10−9). These results suggest that some asthma susceptibility loci are robust to differences in ancestry when sufficiently large samples sizes are investigated, and that ancestry-specific associations also contribute to the complex genetic architecture of asthma.
Background: Air pollutants have been associated with childhood asthma and wheeze. Epigenetic regulation of nitric oxide synthase—the gene responsible for nitric oxide production—may be affected by air pollutants and contribute to the pathogenesis of asthma and wheeze.
Objective: Our goal was to investigate the association between air pollutants, DNA methylation, and respiratory outcomes in children.
Methods: Given residential address and buccal sample collection date, we estimated 7-day, 1-month, 6-month, and 1-year cumulative average PM2.5 and PM10 (particulate matter ≤ 2.5 and ≤ 10 µm aerodynamic diameter, respectively) exposures for 940 participants in the Children’s Health Study. Methylation of 12 CpG sites in three NOS (nitric oxide synthase) genes was measured using a bisulfite-polymerase chain reaction Pyrosequencing assay. Beta regression models were used to estimate associations between air pollutants, percent DNA methylation, and respiratory outcomes.
Results: A 5-µg/m3 increase in PM2.5 was associated with a 0.20% [95% confidence interval (CI): –0.32, –0.07] to 1.0% (95% CI: –1.61, –0.56) lower DNA methylation at NOS2A position 1, 0.06% (95% CI: –0.18, 0.06) to 0.58% (95% CI: –1.13, –0.02) lower methylation at position 2, and 0.34% (95% CI: –0.57, –0.11) to 0.89% (95% CI: –1.57, –0.21) lower methylation at position 3, depending on the length of exposure and CpG locus. One-year PM2.5 exposure was associated with 0.33% (95% CI: 0.01, 0.65) higher in average DNA methylation of 4 loci in the NOS2A CpG island. A 5-µg/m3 increase in 7-day and 1-year PM2.5 was associated with 0.6% (95% CI: 0.13, 0.99) and 2.8% (95% CI: 1.77, 3.75) higher NOS3 DNA methylation. No associations were observed for NOS1. PM10 showed similar but weaker associations with DNA methylation in these genes.
Conclusions: PM2.5 exposure was associated with percent DNA methylation of several CpG loci in NOS genes, suggesting an epigenetic mechanism through which these pollutants may alter production of nitric oxide.
air pollution; asthma; DNA methylation; epigenetics; PM2.5; wheeze
Marker assisted backcrossing has been used effectively to transfer the submergence tolerance gene SUB1 into popular rice varieties, but the approach can be costly. The selection strategy comprising foreground marker and phenotypic selection was investigated as an alternative. The non-significant correlation coefficients between ranking of phenotypic selection and ranking of background marker selection in BC2F1, BC3F1 and BC3F2 generations indicated inefficiency of phenotypic selection compared to marker-assisted background selection with respect to recovery of the recipient genome. In addition, the introgression size of the chromosome fragment containing SUB1 was approximately 17 Mb, showing the effects of linkage drag. The significant correlation coefficient between rankings of phenotypic selection with the percentage of recipient alleles in the BC1F1 generation suggested that background selection could be avoided in this generation to minimize the genotyping cost. The phenotypically selected best plant of the BC3F1 generation was selfed and backcross recombinant lines were selected in the resulting BC3F4 generation. The selection strategy could be appropriate for the introgression of SUB1 QTL in countries that lack access to high-throughput genotyping facilities.
Oryza sativa L.; submergence tolerance; marker assisted selection; backcrossing
Rationale: Genetic variation in arginase (ARG) and nitric oxide synthase (NOS) has been associated with exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) levels in children. Little is known about whether epigenetic variation in these genes modulates FeNO.
Objectives: To evaluate whether DNA methylation in ARG and NOS genes is associated with FeNO.
Methods: A subset of 940 participants in the Children's Health Study were selected for this study. Children were eligible if they had FeNO measurements and buccal cells collected on the same day. CpG loci located in the promoter regions of NOS1, NOS2A, NOS3, ARG1, and ARG2 genes were analyzed. Multiple loci in each gene were evaluated individually and averaged together. DNA methylation was measured using a bisulfite–polymerase chain reaction pyrosequencing assay. Linear regression models were used to investigate the association between DNA methylation and FeNO and whether associations differed by asthma status.
Measurements and Main Results: DNA methylation in ARG2 was significantly associated with FeNO. A 1% increase in average DNA methylation of ARG2 was associated with a 2.3% decrease in FeNO (95% confidence interval, −4 to −0.6). This association was significantly larger in children with asthma (%diff = −8.7%) than in children with no asthma (%diff = −1.6%; pint = 0.01). Differences in FeNO by asthma status were also observed for ARG1 (%diffasthma = −4.4%; %diffnon-asthma = 0.3%; pint = 0.02). DNA methylation in NOS genes was not associated with FeNO.
Conclusions: DNA methylation in ARG1 and ARG2 is associated with FeNO in children with asthma and suggests a possible role for epigenetic regulation of nitric oxide production.
arginase; nitric oxide synthase; FeNO; asthma
DNA methylation in AXL, a receptor tyrosine kinase relevant in cancer and immune function, is reportedly highly heritable. We present evidence to suggest that heritability of DNA methylation in AXL is variable, dependent on population characteristics and cell type studied. Moreover, environmental exposures in utero, particularly exposure to maternal smoking, contributes to variation in DNA methylation of select CpG loci that can affect calculations of heritability. Children exposed to maternal smoking in utero had a 2.3% increase (95% CI 0.3, 4.2) in DNA methylation in AXL, which was magnified in girls as compared to boys. These results present compelling evidence that environmental exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy may alter DNA methylation levels in subtle but potentially important ways and that these changes are persistent years after birth.
AXL; DNA methylation; heritability; maternal smoking; receptor tyrosine kinase
Exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) is a biomarker of airway inflammation. In the nitric oxide (NO) synthesis pathway, nitric oxide synthases (encoded by NOS1, NOS2A and NOS3) and arginases (encoded by ARG1 and ARG2) compete for L-arginine. Although FeNO levels are higher in children with asthma/allergy, influence of these conditions on the relationships between variations in these genes and FeNO remains unknown. The aims of the study were to evaluate the role of genetic variations in nitric oxide synthases and arginases on FeNO in children and to assess the influence of asthma and respiratory allergy on these genetic associations.
Among children (6–11 years) who participated in the southern California Children’s Health Study, variations in these five genetic loci were characterized by tagSNPs. FeNO was measured in two consecutive years (N = 2298 and 2515 in Years 1 and 2, respectively). Repeated measures analysis of variance was used to evaluate the associations between these genetic variants and FeNO.
Sequence variations in the NOS2A and ARG2 loci were globally associated with FeNO (P = 0.0002 and 0.01, respectively). The ARG2 association was tagged by intronic variant rs3742879 with stronger association with FeNO in asthmatic children (P-interaction = 0.01). The association of a NOS2A promoter haplotype with FeNO varied significantly by rs3742879 genotypes and by asthma.
Variants in the NO synthesis pathway genes jointly contribute to differences in FeNO concentrations. Some of these genetic influences were stronger in children with asthma. Further studies are required to confirm our findings.
airway inflammation; asthma; biomarker; exhaled nitric oxide; nitrosative stress
Rationale: Glutathione plays an important role in antioxidant and inflammatory processes in the lung. Alterations in glutathione metabolism are a central feature of several chronic lung diseases.
Objectives: To determine whether sequence variation in genes in the glutathione synthesis pathway alters susceptibility to air pollution effects on lung function.
Methods: In this prospective study, 14,821 lung function measurements were taken on 2,106 children from 12 Southern California cities. Tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms in glutathione metabolism pathway genes GSS, GSR, GCLM, and GCLC were genotyped by GoldenGate assay (Illumina, San Diego, CA). Mixed regression models were used to determine whether particular haplotypes were associated with FEV1, maximal mid-expiratory flow rate, and FVC and whether any of the genetic associations varied with levels of exposure to air pollutants.
Measurements and Main Results: We found that variation in the GSS locus was associated with differences in susceptibility of children for lung function growth deficits associated with NO2, PM10, PM2.5, elemental carbon, organic carbon, and O3. The negative effects of air pollutants were largely observed within participants who had a particular GSS haplotype. The effects ranged from −124.2 to −149.1 for FEV1, from –92.9 to −126.7 for FVC, and from −193.9 to −277.9 for maximal mid-expiratory flow rate for all pollutants except O3, which showed a larger decrease in lung function in children without this haplotype.
Conclusions: Variation in GSS was associated with differences in susceptibility to adverse effects of pollutants on lung function growth.
GSS; glutathione; lung function; oxidative stress; air pollution
Background: The fractional concentration of nitric oxide in exhaled air (FeNO) potentially detects airway inflammation related to air pollution exposure. Existing studies have not yet provided conclusive evidence on the association of FeNO with traffic-related pollution (TRP).
Objectives: We evaluated the association of FeNO with residential TRP exposure in a large cohort of children.
Methods: We related FeNO measured on 2,143 children (ages 7–11 years) who participated in the Southern California Children’s Health Study (CHS) to five classes of metrics of residential TRP: distances to freeways and major roads; length of all and local roads within circular buffers around the home; traffic densities within buffers; annual average line source dispersion modeled nitrogen oxides (NOx) from freeways and nonfreeway roads; and predicted annual average nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and NOx from a model based on intracommunity sampling in the CHS.
Results: In children with asthma, length of roads was positively associated with FeNO, with stronger associations in smaller buffers [46.7%; 95% confidence interval (CI), 14.3–88.4], 12.4% (95% CI, –8.8 to 38.4), and 4.1% (95% CI, –14.6 to 26.8) higher FeNO for 100-, 300-, and 1,000-m increases in the length of all roads in 50-, 100-, and 200-m buffers, respectively. Other TRP metrics were not significantly associated with FeNO, even though the study design was powered to detect exposures explaining as little as 0.4% of the variation in natural log-transformed FeNO (R2 = 0.004).
Conclusion: Length of road was the only indicator of residential TRP exposure associated with airway inflammation in children with asthma, as measured by FeNO.
air pollution; airway inflammation; children’s respiratory health; exhaled nitric oxide; traffic
Microsomal epoxide hydrolase (EPHX1) metabolises xenobiotics including polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Functional variants at this locus have been associated with respiratory diseases. The effects of EPHX1 variants may depend upon exposures from tobacco smoke and traffic emissions that contain PAHs as well as variants in other enzymes in the PAH metabolic pathway such as glutathione S‐transferase (GST) genes. A study was undertaken to investigate associations of variants in EPHX1, GSTM1, GSTP1 and GSTT1 with asthma and the relationships between asthma, EPHX1 metabolic phenotypes and exposure to sources of PAHs.
Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were computed to estimate the associations of genetic variants and exposures with asthma phenotypes using data from 3124 children from the Children's Health Study.
High EPHX1 activity was associated with an increased risk for lifetime asthma (OR 1.51, 95% CI 1.14 to 1.98) which varied by GSTP1 Ile105Val genotype and by residential proximity to major roads (p for interaction = 0.006 and 0.03, respectively). Among children with GSTP1 105Val/Val genotype, those who had high EPHX1 phenotype had a fourfold (95% CI 1.97 to 8.16) increased risk of lifetime asthma than children with low/intermediate EPHX1 phenotype. Among children living within 75 metres of a major road, those with high EPHX1 activity had a 3.2‐fold (95% CI 1.75 to 6.00) higher lifetime asthma risk than those with low/intermediate activity. The results were similar for current, early persistent and late onset asthma. Children with high EPHX1 phenotype, GSTP1 Val/Val genotype who lived <75 metres from a major road were at the highest asthma risk.
EPHX1 and GSTP1 variants contribute to the occurrence of childhood asthma and increase asthma susceptibility to exposures from major roads.
Arginases (encoded by ARG1 and ARG2 genes) may play an important role in asthma pathogenesis through effects on nitrosative stress. Arginase expression is upregulated in asthma and varies with T helper type-2 cytokine levels and oxidative stress.
We aimed to examine whether variants in these genes are associated with asthma, and whether atopy, and exposures to smoking and air pollution influence the associations.
Among non-Hispanic and Hispanic white participants of the Children’s Health Study (N=2,946), we characterized variation in each locus (including promoter region) with 6 tagSNPs for ARG1 and 10 for ARG2. Asthma was defined by parental report of physician-diagnosed asthma at study entry.
Both ARG1 and ARG2 genetic loci were significantly associated with asthma (global locus level p-values=0.02 and 0.04, respectively). Compared to the most common haplotype within each locus, one ARG1 haplotype was associated with reduced risk (odds ratio (OR) per haplotype copy=0.55; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.36–0.84) and one ARG2 haplotype was associated with increased risk (OR per haplotype copy=1.35; 95% CI: 1.04–1.76) of asthma. The effect of the ARG1 haplotype that was significantly associated with asthma varied by child’s history of atopy and ambient ozone (Pinteraction=0.04 and 0.02, respectively). Among atopic children living in high ozone communities, those carrying the ARG1 haplotype had reduced asthma risk (OR per haplotype copy=0.12; 95% CI: 0.04–0.43; Pheterogeneity across atopy/ozone categories=0.008).
ARG1 and ARG2 loci are associated with childhood asthma. The association between ARG1 variation and asthma may depend on atopy and ambient ozone.
air pollution; asthma genetics; atopy; gene-environment interaction; nitrosative stress
Background. Proximity to heavy traffic has been linked to increased asthma severity. However, it is unknown whether exposure to heavy traffic is associated with the ability to maintain asthma control. Objectives. This study examines whether exposure to heavy traffic is associated with the ability to maintain asthma control in inner-city children. Methods. 756 inner-city asthmatic Hispanic children were followed for one year in a pediatric asthma management program (Breathmobile). At each scheduled visit, asthma specialist tracked patients' asthma severity and managed their asthma based on the NAEPP guidelines. The patients' residential distance from the nearest freeway was calculated based on residential address at study entry. Distance to nearest freeway was used as a surrogate marker for high exposure from traffic-related air pollutants. Results. Patients who lived near a freeway were significantly more likely to have asthma that was not well controlled (P = .03). Patients with intermittent and mild baseline severity have a two-fold increased risk of having asthma that is uncontrolled if they lived <2 miles from a freeway (OR = 2.2, P = .04). Conclusion. In children with asthma, residential proximity to freeways is associated with uncontrolled asthma.
Rationale: The glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) are important detoxification enzymes.
Objectives: To investigate effects of variants in GST mu genes on lung function and assess their interactions with tobacco smoke exposure.
Methods: In this prospective study, 14,836 lung function measurements were collected from 2,108 children who participated in two Southern California cohorts. For each child, tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms in GSTM2, GSTM3, GSTM4, and GSTM5 loci were genotyped. Using principal components and haplotype analyses, the significance of each locus in relation to level and growth of FEV1, maximum midexpiratory flow rate (MMEF), and FVC was evaluated. Interactions between loci and tobacco smoke on lung function were also investigated.
Measurements and Main Results: Variation in the GST mu family locus was associated with lower FEV1 (P = 0.01) and MMEF (0.04). Two haplotypes of GSTM2 were associated with FEV1 and MMEF, with effect estimates in opposite directions. One haplotype in GSTM3 showed a decrease in growth for MMEF (−164.9 ml/s) compared with individuals with other haplotypes. One haplotype in GSTM4 showed significantly decreased growth in FEV1 (−51.3 ml), MMEF (−69.1 ml/s), and FVC (−44.4 ml), compared with all other haplotypes. These results were consistent across two independent cohorts. Variation in GSTM2 was particularly important for FVC and FEV1 among children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy.
Conclusions: Genetic variation across the GST mu locus is associated with 8-year lung function growth. Children of mothers who smoked during pregnancy and had variation in GSTM2 had lower lung function growth.
FEV1; in utero; glutathione S-transferase; tobacco smoke
Associations between single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the β2-adrenergic receptor gene and asthma and wheeze have been inconsistent. Recent studies indicated that tobacco smoke affects β2-adrenergic receptor gene expression and associations of β2-adrenergic receptor gene variants with asthma in adults. We aimed to investigate the joint effects of in utero and childhood secondhand tobacco smoke exposure and 2 well-characterized functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms (Arg16Gly and Glu27Gln) of β2-adrenergic receptor gene on asthma and wheezing in 3128 non-Hispanic and Hispanic white children of the Children's Health Study.
We fitted logistic regression models to estimate odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the independent and joint effects of these single-nucleotide polymorphisms and in utero and secondhand tobacco smoke exposure on asthma and wheeze outcomes.
Exposures to in utero maternal smoking and secondhand tobacco smoke were associated with wheezing. Children who were homozygous for the Arg16 allele and were exposed to maternal smoking in utero were at a threefold increased risk for lifetime wheeze compared with children who were unexposed and had at least 1 Gly16 allele. We found similar joint effects of secondhand tobacco smoke and Arg16Gly with wheezing. The risk for lifetime, current, and nocturnal wheeze increased with the number of smokers at home among Arg16 homozygous children. The results were consistent in 2 cohorts of children recruited in 1993 and 1996. Diplotype-based analyses were consistent with the single-nucleotide polymorphism–specific results. No associations were found for Glu27Gln.
Both in utero and childhood exposure to tobacco smoke were associated with an increased risk for wheeze in children, and the risks were greater for children with the Arg16Arg genotype or 2 copies of the Arg16–Gln27 diplotype. Exposures to smoking need to be taken into account when evaluating the effects of β2-adrenergic receptor gene variants on respiratory health outcomes.
β-2 adrenergic receptor; prenatal exposure; secondhand-smoke exposure; asthma; wheeze
Rationale: Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1 is involved in airway inflammation and remodeling, two key processes in asthma pathogenesis. Tobacco smoke and traffic emissions induce airway inflammation and modulate TGF-β1 gene expression. We hypothesized that the effects of functional TGF-β1 variants on asthma occurrence vary by these exposures.
Objectives: We tested these hypotheses among 3,023 children who participated in the Children's Health Study.
Methods: Tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms rs4803457 C>T and C-509T (a functional promoter polymorphism) accounted for 94% of the haplotype diversity of the upstream region. Exposure to maternal smoking in utero was based on smoking by biological mother during pregnancy. Residential distance from nearest freeway was calculated based on residential address at study entry.
Measurements and Main Results: Children with the −509TT genotype had a 1.8-fold increased risk of early persistent asthma (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11–2.95). This association varied marginally significantly by in utero exposure to maternal smoking. Compared with children with the −509CC/CT genotype with no in utero exposure to maternal smoking, those with the −509TT genotype with such exposure had a 3.4-fold increased risk of early persistent asthma (95% CI, 1.46–7.80; interaction, P = 0.11). The association between TGF-β1 C-509T and lifetime asthma varied by residential proximity to freeways (interaction P = 0.02). Children with the −509TT genotype living within 500 m of a freeway had over three-fold increased lifetime asthma risk (95% CI, 1.29–7.44) compared with children with CC/CT genotype living > 1500 m from a freeway.
Conclusions: Children with the TGF-β1 −509TT genotype are at increased risk of asthma when they are exposed to maternal smoking in utero or to traffic-related emissions.
maternal smoking; traffic; asthma; genetics; gene–environment interaction; association study
Exposures to ambient air pollutants have been associated with adverse birth outcomes. We investigated the effects of air pollutants on birth weight mediated by reduced fetal growth among term infants who were born in California during 1975–1987 and who participated in the Children’s Health Study. Birth certificates provided maternal reproductive history and residence location at birth. Sociodemographic factors and maternal smoking during pregnancy were collected by questionnaire. Monthly average air pollutant levels were interpolated from monitors to the ZIP code of maternal residence at childbirth. Results from linear mixed-effects regression models showed that a 12-ppb increase in 24-hr ozone averaged over the entire pregnancy was associated with 47.2 g lower birth weight [95% confidence interval (CI), 27.4–67.0 g], and this association was most robust for exposures during the second and third trimesters. A 1.4-ppm difference in first-trimester carbon monoxide exposure was associated with 21.7 g lower birth weight (95% CI, 1.1–42.3 g) and 20% increased risk of intrauterine growth retardation (95% CI, 1.0–1.4). First-trimester CO and third-trimester O3 exposures were associated with 20% increased risk of intrauterine growth retardation. A 20-μg/m3 difference in levels of particulate matter ≤ 10 μm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10) during the third trimester was associated with a 21.7-g lower birth weight (95% CI, 1.1–42.2 g), but this association was reduced and not significant after adjusting for O3. In summary, O3 exposure during the second and third trimesters and CO exposure during the first trimester were associated with reduced birth weight.
air pollution; birth weight; carbon monoxide; intrauterine growth retardation; maternal exposure; nitrogen dioxide; ozone; particulate matter
Early-life experiences and environmental exposures have been associated with childhood asthma. To investigate further whether the timing of such experiences and exposures is associated with the occurrence of asthma by 5 years of age, we conducted a prevalence case-control study nested within the Children's Health Study, a population-based study of > 4,000 school-aged children in 12 southern California communities. Cases were defined as physician-diagnosed asthma by age 5, and controls were asthma-free at study entry, frequency-matched on age, sex, and community of residence and countermatched on in utero exposure to maternal smoking. Telephone interviews were conducted with mothers to collect additional exposure and asthma histories. Conditional logistic regression models were fitted to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Asthma diagnosis before 5 years of age was associated with exposures in the first year of life to wood or oil smoke, soot, or exhaust (OR = 1.74; 95% CI, 1.02-2.96), cockroaches (OR = 2.03; 95% CI, 1.03-4.02), herbicides (OR = 4.58; 95% CI, 1.36-15.43), pesticides (OR = 2.39; 95% CI, 1.17-4.89), and farm crops, farm dust, or farm animals (OR = 1.88; 95% CI, 1.07-3.28). The ORs for herbicide, pesticide, farm animal, and crops were largest among children with early-onset persistent asthma. The risk of asthma decreased with an increasing number of siblings (ptrend = 0.01). Day care attendance within the first 4 months of life was positively associated with early-onset transient wheezing (OR = 2.42; 95% CI, 1.28-4.59). In conclusion, environmental exposures during the first year of life are associated with childhood asthma risk.