Childhood asthma can be prevented by keeping homes free of dust mites

Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine, Social Health Community Comments Off

The condition can even develop in children below 3 years

New Delhi, 31 March 2019: A new study has found that consuming a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is linked to fewer childhood asthma symptoms which are triggered by indoor air pollution. The study lays out that families and health care providers may be able to protect children from harmful effects of indoor air pollution by serving a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids while reducing foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids such as soya bean oil and corn oil.

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found abundantly in fish and certain nuts and seeds, are considered healthy as they are known to reduce inflammation. Omega-6 fatty acids, primarily found in vegetable oils (including corn, soybean, safflower, and sunflower), as came out in other studies, have mixed effects on health, but have the potential to promote inflammation.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Asthma is a disorder caused by inflammation in the airways (called bronchi) that lead to the lungs. This inflammation causes airways to tighten and narrow, which blocks air from flowing freely into the lungs, making it hard to breathe. There is no specific reason for the development of asthma in children. However, there are several triggers such as dust, air pollution, and exposure to secondhand smoke. Pediatric asthma is one of the major reasons for absenteeism from school. In most children, asthma develops before 5 years of age, and in more than half, asthma develops before 3 years of age.”

Some symptoms of asthma in children include wheezing (whistling sound) when breathing, coughing, rapid and labored breathing, complaints of chest hurting, reduced energy, and feeling weak or tired.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Diagnosing asthma in children can be difficult and time-consuming. This is because of the pattern of symptoms. It is possible to prevent flare ups by making changes to the child’s diet as also avoiding exposure to environmental pollutants as far as possible. The goals of asthma therapy are to prevent children from having chronic and troublesome symptoms and reduce the need for emergency hospitalization.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Prevent exposure to dust mites. These are tiny insects and one of the most common asthma triggers. They tend to live in beds, carpeting, upholstered furniture and soft toys. It is important to keep all these things dust free.
  • Restrict the child’s contact with pets especially if he/she is allergic.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and encourage good eating habits. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in their diet.
  • Avoid exposure to smoke. Expectant mothers should quit smoking altogether as this is one of the major risk factors for development of asthma in children.
  • Breastfeed your infant. This will increase immunity and help ward off potential complications.