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Respiratory health status of children in the eastern Transvaal highveld

Respiratory health status of children in the eastern Transvaal highveld

South African Medical Journal 78(11): 647-653

A study was undertaken to determine if there were detectable effects on the respiratory health status of children resident in the eastern Transvaal highveld as a consequence of their exposure to community air pollution, comparing them with children in areas ostensibly less polluted. A prevalence study was conducted in white schoolchildren from 11 schools in the eastern Transvaal highveld (1,031 children) and from 11 schools in non-polluted towns in the Transvaal (978 children). A questionnaire was completed by each child's mother, and height and weight were measured and spirometry recorded on a vitalograph. Cough, wheeze, asthma and chest illnesses were more frequently reported from polluted areas compared with non-polluted areas, taking into account parental smoking and home cooking fuel (odds ratios 1.34, 1.20, 1.15 and 1.88, respectively). After correcting for age, children in the polluted area were 0.83 cm shorter (P = 0.035). However, there were no significant differences in forced vital capacity and forced expiratory volume in 1 second after standardising for height, age, parental smoking and home cooking fuel. We conclude that, in children, exposure to pollution in the eastern Transvaal highveld may cause respiratory symptoms and chest illness and may affect height but does not measurably affect lung function, as assessed by spirometry.

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Accession: 041250245

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PMID: 2251608

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