Lengthy daily stints in front of the TV linked to doubled childhood asthma risk

Mar 03, 2009

Young children who spend more than two hours glued to the TV every day double their subsequent risk of developing asthma, indicates research published ahead of print in Thorax.

The findings are based on more than 3,000 children whose respiratory health was tracked from birth to 11.5 years of age. The children were all participants in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), which has been following the long term health of 14,000 children and their parents.

The parents were quizzed annually on symptoms of wheezing among their offspring and whether a doctor had diagnosed asthma in their child by the time s/he was 7.5 years old, but not before the age of 3.5 years.

Parents were also asked to assess their children's TV viewing habits from the age of 3.5 years, and these were subsequently compared with those of their symptomless peers.

The amount of time spent in front of the box was used as a proxy measure of sedentary behaviour, because personal computers and games consoles were not in widespread use at the time (mid 1990s).

The prevalence of asthma among children at the age of 11.5 years, who had no asthmatic symptoms when they were 3.5 years old was 6%. But children who watched TV for more than two hours a day were almost twice as likely to have been diagnosed with asthma as those who watched the box less.

By the time the children were 11.5 years old, there was little difference in levels of sedentary behaviour between those with asthma and those without. The results were not confined to one gender, nor were they related to current weight.

The authors comment that the relationship between physical activity, sedentary behaviour and asthma is complex. But they point out that recent research has suggested that breathing patterns in children may be associated with sedentary behaviour, sparking developmental changes in the lungs and subsequent wheezing.

Source: British Medical Journal

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RayCherry
not rated yet Jul 24, 2009
The chicken! The egg. The chicken! The egg!

Age of diagnosis. Age of earliest symptoms. Age at which parents thought it best to let the kids watch TV rather than risk another episode caused by 'play'.

"Take a pinch of peanuts everyday to overcome your peanut allergy."

All this 'advice' is fine, as long as the risk and the consequences are not yours.

I had asthma in Cardiff from birth until I left the U.K. for a Socrates Exchange to Helsinki for three months. Within the first month, I felt I could leave my Ventolin at the dorm, and run down the street after then tram. I know what children and parents go through, but the solution is not just allergy avoidance, medicines and exercise. Air quality makes a brutal difference, and the dry air of Scandanavia (even in a very cold and polluted city like Helsinki) can relieve the problems of athsma tremendously.

Yes, the symptoms returned in force within weeks of my return to the U.K.

I now live in Portugal, and suffer much less than I did in the U.K. although episodes can still be triggered by the same old allergens.