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1.  Parental Stress Increases the Detrimental Effect of Traffic Exposure on Children's Lung Function 
Rationale: Emerging evidence indicates that psychosocial stress enhances the effect of traffic exposure on the development of asthma.
Objectives: We hypothesized that psychosocial stress would also modify the effect of traffic exposure on lung function deficits.
Methods: We studied 1,399 participants in the Southern California Children's Health Study undergoing lung function testing (mean age, 11.2 yr). We used hierarchical mixed models to assess the joint effect of traffic-related air pollution and stress on lung function.
Measurements and Main Results: Psychosocial stress in each child's household was assessed based on parental response to the perceived stress scale (range, 0–16) at study entry. Exposures to nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, and total oxides of nitrogen (NOx), surrogates of the traffic-related pollution mixture, were estimated at schools and residences based on a land-use regression model. Among children from high-stress households (parental perceived stress scale >4) deficits in FEV1 of 4.5 (95% confidence interval, −6.5 to −2.4) and of 2.8% (−5.7 to 0.3) were associated with each 21.8 ppb increase in NOx at homes and schools, respectively. These pollutant effects were significantly larger in the high-stress compared with lower-stress households (interaction P value 0.007 and 0.05 for residential and school NOx, respectively). No significant NOx effects were observed in children from low-stress households. A similar pattern of association was observed for FVC. The observed associations for FEV1 and FVC remained after adjusting for sociodemographic factors and after restricting the analysis to children who do not have asthma.
Conclusions: A high-stress home environment is associated with increased susceptibility to lung function effects of air pollution both at home and at school.
doi:10.1164/rccm.201104-0720OC
PMCID: PMC3208647  PMID: 21700914
parental stress; traffic exposure; lung function; children
2.  Ethnic Differences in the Effect of Asthma on Pulmonary Function in Children 
Rationale: The impact of asthma on chronic lung function deficits is well known. However, there has been little study of ethnic differences in these asthma-associated deficits.
Objectives: To examine whether there are ethnic differences in the effects of asthma on children's lung function.
Methods: We evaluated the impact of asthma on lung function in 3,245 Hispanic and non-Hispanic white school children (age 10–18 yr) in a longitudinal analysis of the Southern California Children's Health Study. Sex-specific mixed-effects regression spline models were fitted separately for each ethnic group.
Measurements and Main Results: Large deficits in flows were observed among children with asthma diagnosed before age 4 years regardless of ethnicity. Hispanic girls with asthma had greater deficits in flows than non-Hispanic girls and were largest for maximal midexpiratory flow (−5.13% compared with −0.58%, respectively). A bigger impact of asthma in Hispanic girls was also found for FEV1, FEF75, and PEF (P value 0.04, 0.07, and 0.005, respectively). These ethnic differences were limited to girls diagnosed after age 4 years. In boys, asthma was also associated with greater deficits in flows among Hispanic than in non-Hispanic white children (differences that were not statistically significant). Ethnic differences in prevalence of pets and pests in the home, health insurance coverage, parental education, and smoking did not explain the pattern of lung function differences.
Conclusions: Larger asthma-associated lung function deficits in Hispanics, especially among girls, merit further investigation to determine public health implications and to identify causes amenable to intervention.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200912-1863OC
PMCID: PMC3081280  PMID: 20889910
Hispanics; non-Hispanic whites; pulmonary function; asthma
3.  Ozone, Oxidant Defense Genes, and Risk of Asthma during Adolescence 
Rationale: Although oxidative stress is a cardinal feature of asthma, the roles of oxidant air pollutants and antioxidant genes heme oxygenase 1 (HMOX-1), catalase (CAT), and manganese superoxide dismutase (MNSOD) in asthma pathogenesis have yet to be determined.
Objectives: We hypothesized that the functional polymorphisms of HMOX-1 ([GT]n repeat), CAT (−262C>T −844C>T), and MNSOD (Ala-9Val) are associated with new-onset asthma, and the effects of these variants vary by exposure to ozone, a potent oxidant air pollutant.
Methods: We assessed this hypothesis in a population-based cohort of non-Hispanic (n = 1,125) and Hispanic white (n = 586) children who resided in 12 California communities and who were followed annually for 8 years to ascertain new-onset asthma.
Measurements and Main Results: Air pollutants were continuously measured in each of the study communities during the 8 years of study follow-up. HMOX-1 “short” alleles (<23 repeats) were associated with a reduced risk for new-onset asthma among non-Hispanic whites (hazard ratio [HR], 0.64; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.41–0.99). This protective effect was largest in children residing in low-ozone communities (HR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.25–0.91) (interaction P value = 0.003). Little evidence for an association with HMOX-1 was observed among Hispanic children. In contrast, Hispanic children with a variant of the CAT-262 “T” allele (CT or TT) had an increased risk for asthma (HR, 1.78; P value = 0.01). The effects of these polymorphisms were not modified by personal smoking or secondhand-smoke exposure.
Conclusions: Functional promoter variants in CAT and HMOX-1 showed ethnicity-specific associations with new-onset asthma. Oxidant gene protection was restricted to children living in low-ozone communities.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200706-863OC
PMCID: PMC2258440  PMID: 18048809
asthma; catalase; heme oxygenase-1; MnSOD; oxidative stress; ozone
4.  Transforming Growth Factor-β1 C-509T Polymorphism, Oxidant Stress, and Early-Onset Childhood Asthma 
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.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200704-561OC
PMCID: PMC2176104  PMID: 17673695
maternal smoking; traffic; asthma; genetics; gene–environment interaction; association study
5.  Health Effects of the 2003 Southern California Wildfires on Children 
Rationale: In late October 2003, Southern California wildfires burned more than 3,000 km2. The wildfires produced heavy smoke that affected several communities participating in the University of Southern California Children's Health Study (CHS).
Objectives: To study the acute effects of fire smoke on the health of CHS participants.
Methods: A questionnaire was used to assess smoke exposure and occurrence of symptoms among CHS high-school students (n = 873; age, 17–18 yr) and elementary-school children (n = 5,551; age, 6–7 yr), in a total of 16 communities. Estimates of particulate matter (PM10) concentrations during the 5 d with the highest fire activity were used to characterize community smoke level.
Main Results: All symptoms (nose, eyes, and throat irritations; cough; bronchitis; cold; wheezing; asthma attacks), medication usage, and physician visits were associated with individually reported exposure differences within communities. Risks increased monotonically with the number of reported smoky days. For most outcomes, reporting rates between communities were also associated with the fire-related PM10 levels. Associations tended to be strongest among those without asthma. Individuals with asthma were more likely to take preventive action, such as wearing masks or staying indoors during the fire.
Conclusions: Exposure to wildfire smoke was associated with increased eye and respiratory symptoms, medication use, and physician visits.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200604-519OC
PMCID: PMC2648104  PMID: 16946126
air pollution; asthma; sore throat; wheezing
6.  Regular Smoking and Asthma Incidence in Adolescents 
Rationale: Although involuntary exposure to maternal smoking during the in utero period and to secondhand smoke are associated with occurrence of childhood asthma, few studies have investigated the role of active cigarette smoking on asthma onset during adolescence.
Objectives: To determine whether regular smoking is associated with the new onset of asthma during adolescence.
Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study among 2,609 children with no lifetime history of asthma or wheezing who were recruited from fourth- and seventh-grade classrooms and followed annually in schools in 12 southern California communities. Regular smoking was defined as smoking at least seven cigarettes per day on average over the week before and 300 cigarettes in the year before each annual interview. Incident asthma was defined using new cases of physician-diagnosed asthma.
Measurements and Main Results: Regular smoking was associated with increased risk of new-onset asthma. Children who reported smoking 300 or more cigarettes per year had a relative risk (RR) of 3.9 (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.7–8.5) for new-onset asthma compared with nonsmokers. The increased risk from regular smoking was greater in nonallergic than in allergic children. Regular smokers who were exposed to maternal smoking during gestation had the largest risk from active smoking (RR, 8.8; 95% CI, 3.2–24.0).
Conclusions: Regular smoking increased risk for asthma among adolescents, especially for nonallergic adolescents and those exposed to maternal smoking during the in utero period.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200605-722OC
PMCID: PMC2648110  PMID: 16973983
asthma; epidemiology; smoking
7.  TNF-308 Modifies the Effect of Second-Hand Smoke on Respiratory Illness–related School Absences 
Rationale: Exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS) has been associated with increased risk of respiratory illness in children including respiratory illness–related school absences. The role of genetic susceptibility in risk for adverse effects from SHS has not been extensively investigated in children.
Objective: To determine whether the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) G-308A genotype influences the risk for respiratory illness–related school absences associated with SHS exposure.
Methods: Incident school absences were collected, using an active surveillance system, between January and June 1996, as part of the Air Pollution and Absence Study, a prospective cohort study nested in the Children's Health Study. Buccal cells and absence reports were collected on 1,351 students from 27 elementary schools in California.
Measurements and Main Results: Illness-related school absences were classified as nonrespiratory and respiratory illness–related, which were further categorized into upper or lower respiratory illness–related absences based on symptoms. The effect of SHS exposure on respiratory illness–related absences differed by TNF genotype (p interaction, 0.02). In children possessing at least one copy of the TNF-308 A variant, exposure to two or more household smokers was associated with a twofold risk of a school absence due to respiratory illness (relative risk, 2.13; 95% confidence interval, 1.34, 3.40) and a fourfold risk of lower respiratory illness–related school absence (relative risk, 4.15; 95% confidence interval, 2.57, 6.71) compared with unexposed children homozygous for the common TNF-308 G allele.
Conclusions: These results indicate that a subgroup of genetically susceptible children are at substantially greater risk of respiratory illness if exposed to SHS.
doi:10.1164/rccm.200503-490OC
PMCID: PMC2718456  PMID: 16166621
epidemiology; school absence; second-hand smoke; TNF

Results 1-7 (7)