Although ambient air pollution has been linked to reduced lung function in healthy children, longitudinal analyses of pollution effects in asthma are lacking.
To investigate pollution effects in a longitudinal asthma study and effect modification by controller medications.
We examined associations of lung function and methacholine responsiveness (PC20) with ozone, carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) levels in 1,003 asthmatic children participating in a 4-year clinical trial. We further investigated whether budesonide and nedocromil modified pollution effects. Daily pollutant concentrations were linked to zip/postal code of residence. Linear mixed models tested associations of within-subject pollutant concentrations with FEV1 and FVC %predicted, FEV1/FVC and PC20, adjusting for seasonality and confounders.
Same-day and 1-week average CO levels were negatively associated with post-bronchodilator %predicted FEV1 (change(95%CI) per IQR: −0.33(−0.49, −0.16), −0.41(−0.62, −0.21), respectively) and FVC (−0.19(−0.25, −0.07), −0.25(−0.43, −0.07)). Longer-term four-month averages of CO were negatively associated with prebronchodilator %predicted FEV1 and FVC (−0.36(−0.62, −0.10), −0.21(−0.42, −0.01)). Four-month averaged CO and ozone levels were negatively associated with FEV1/FVC (p<0.05). Increased four-month average NO2 levels were associated with reduced post-bronchodilator FEV1 and FVC %predicted. Long-term exposures to SO2 were associated with reduced PC20 (%change(95%CI) per IQR:-6(-11,-1.5)). Treatment augmented the negative short-term CO effect on PC20.
Air pollution adversely influences lung function and PC20 in asthmatic children. Treatment with controller medications may not protect but worsens the CO effects on PC20. This clinical trial design evaluates modification of pollution effects by treatment without confounding by indication.