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Watch out couch potatoes! Children watching excessive amounts of TV between the ages of 3.5 and 7.5 double their risk of developing asthma, a recent study indicates.  (Source: The Daily Mail)
Watch out little couch potatoes, your friend asthma may be coming to town!

British researchers are just taking the fun out of all of life's little evils.  First, a recent study showed that just a glass of wine a day could raise women's risk of getting certain cancers by as much as 40 percent, including greatly increasing the risk of breast and rectal cancers.  Now British research in a separate study conducted by the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) claims that watching TV excessively as a child may double asthma risk.

The new study followed 3,000 children assessing their respiratory tract health from birth to 11.5 years of age.  The ALSPAC also has been following the long term health of 14,000 children and their parents.  The study involved a simple quiz of parents asking them if their children had been coughing or wheezing or if they had been diagnosed with asthma.

It looked for children that had not developed asthma by 3.5 years of age (indicating a greater likelihood for hereditary factors), but had developed it by 7.5 years of age (when lifestyle factors might come into play).  Parents were quizzed on how much TV their children watched a day.

Some might find it odd that the study did not quiz parents on PC use, but the body of the data collection was done in the mid 1990s, before PCs for children were widespread in homes.  What the study did discover was that by 11.5 years of age, 6 percent of children developed asthma symptoms that had none at 3.5 years of age.  Of these children that developed asthma late, they were mostly children that watched excessive amounts of television.

The researchers found that children watching two or more hours of TV a day were more than twice as likely to develop asthma as their peers who spent less tube time.  TV was selected as a major factor as it was the primary sedentary childhood activity in the 90s, though it has since been supplanted slightly by computer use, as mentioned.

The asthma rates showed no clear correlation to weight or gender.  Also, by the time they were 11.5 years old, the children's amount of sedentary time per day was approximately uniform, so TV watching in older children did not appear to be a serious issue.

While the study's authors do not know quite why sedentary behavior might trigger asthma, they point to recent research that indicates that sedentary behavior may influence breathing patterns in children, effecting the development of the lungs and respiratory tract.  These changes may end up causing asthma. 

Other studies have indicated that lack of exposure to allergens may lead to increased rates of asthma and allergies.  It is reasonable to assume that children devoting greater time to sedentary pursuits might spend less time outdoors, and thus have less early exposure to pollen or other airborne allergens.

The study appears will appear in the journal Thorax.



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TV Causes Asthma?
By Shane McGlaun (blog) on 3/11/2009 9:45:28 AM , Rating: 5
I am no doctor or research scientist but I did spend years in college and over a decade as a respiratory therapist before getting sick of people coughing all over me 12 hours a day.

I happen to know a lot about asthma and I for one do not see how TV watching can give kids asthma. You don't catch asthma, its something that is fairly common to have have and certain things can trigger it. Air quality inside homes is horrible in many places with cats, dogs, and allergens in higher concentrations than you often see outside.

What I can see causing an increase in asthma symptoms in kids is sitting on a couch watching TV all day with a cat or dog in their lap. I can see lazy parents not cleaning and allowing pet dander and pollen to build up and trigger asthma symptoms. I can see all of that happening on the couch, where many kids and adults spend a lot of time. I for one will need much more concrete proof to justify the claim that TV watching in any way, other than the proximity to the pets/couch causes asthma.

Asthma is way more common than people think, the condition is often simply not diagnosed because people correlate asthma with wheezing, which kids often don't have. Frequently the only symptom of asthma in kids is coughing at rest and especially with exertion. This is often blown off as allergies or a cold. Follow a group of kids for a few years actually looking for asthma and you can probably correlate asthma to many things people commonly do.

If the researchers followed a large enough group of kids they might be able to correlate asthma to playing soccer too, exercise triggers asthma in some kids and adults. Kids should be outside playing and being active, don't get me wrong. That said, my BS O' Meter gets aroused when I read of studies like this.




RE: TV Causes Asthma?
By kattanna on 3/11/2009 10:18:49 AM , Rating: 4
the really sad part about your post is that it contains more thought and research then the article you are talking about.

quote:
my BS O' Meter gets aroused when I read of studies like this


unfortunately, that seems to be the case a lot nowadays with "scientific studies". they seem far more concerned with grabbing headlines then presenting facts.


RE: TV Causes Asthma?
By Dharl on 3/11/2009 10:38:53 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
What I can see causing an increase in asthma symptoms in kids is sitting on a couch watching TV all day with a cat or dog in their lap. I can see lazy parents not cleaning and allowing pet dander and pollen to build up and trigger asthma symptoms. I can see all of that happening on the couch, where many kids and adults spend a lot of time. I for one will need much more concrete proof to justify the claim that TV watching in any way, other than the proximity to the pets/couch causes asthma.


I agree with you 110%. A study like this, and even that picture with it, focus on worst case scenarios and make it as if this is a common thing.

Personally, I've always believed I have a touch of Asthma. However, growing up I was never one to sit and watch TV all day. I grew up playing outside, especially Basketball. I was on various teams up till High School when I couldn't keep up due to being out of breathe after a relatively short period of exertion. The taste of blood in one's mouth & throat is never a good thing.

I just hate to see a study of "fear" like most are. They take some ridiculous notion, focus their study on a select group, and then publish it as well known fact. In the worst case scenario listed above... yes I believe that could easily be a cause, but honestly how many children percentage wise would even fall into that category. I'd hope not many at all.


RE: TV Causes Asthma?
By mindless1 on 3/11/09, Rating: 0
RE: TV Causes Asthma?
By Shane McGlaun (blog) on 3/11/2009 1:12:27 PM , Rating: 4
Asthma isn't caused by weak accessory muscles or the diaphram, it is caused by constriction in the airways from inflammation.


RE: TV Causes Asthma?
By Reclaimer77 on 3/11/2009 3:22:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What if lack of activity results in the diaphragm being weaker onto the point where when they need to increase respiratory rate, the muscles aren't capable of sustaining this increase? I suspect that in conjunction with fewer antibodies from lesser exposure to low levels of airborne contaminants.


Mindless, as usual, has no clue what he's talking about. Do you even know WHAT asthma is ?

quote:
What if lack of activity results in the diaphragm being weaker onto the point where when they need to increase respiratory rate


The ONLY WAY a diaphragm could get that weak is if the kid was on an iron lung for 3 years and not breathing on his own.


RE: TV Causes Asthma?
By theapparition on 3/11/2009 1:06:37 PM , Rating: 1
While I agree on principle, and am no means an expert, I dispute your assertation that dogs/cats are a root problem of asthma.

I've seen several studies that all come to the same conclusion: Children who grow up in homes with dogs were signifigantly overall healthier than children who did not.

These studies didn't speak directly of asthma, but of overall health. I'd actually like to postulate that inactivity, not causing rapid exercise of lungs, could be just as guilty for causing asthma symptoms. Enviromental concerns are certainly a cause, but I think exercise is just as important.

Overall I agree though. Just because a study indicates correlation, it does not imply causation.


RE: TV Causes Asthma?
By Shane McGlaun (blog) on 3/11/2009 1:10:29 PM , Rating: 2
Pet dander is one of the most common triggers for Asthma along with smoke, pollen, cold air, exertion and others. Pets don't cause asthma.


RE: TV Causes Asthma?
By theapparition on 3/13/2009 9:51:23 AM , Rating: 2
Notice I said dogs/cats. By that, it is implicitly implying pet dander. Obviously fish have little impact on air quality, that's why I didn't say "pets".

And yet I've never seen a study come to the conclusion that children growing up in homes with dogs/cats are unhealthier, they all come to the opposite conclusion. Some scientists postulate that being exposed to dander/allergens at an earlier age causes immunity buildup against asthma and other respitory problems.


RE: TV Causes Asthma?
By Lerianis on 3/13/2009 6:37:37 PM , Rating: 2
That isn't just a postulate, that's actually been proven by looking at twins who were given up for adoption, one living in a home without animals, one with animals.
The one who lived in a home with animals with dander was less likely to have any allergies, because their bodies have gotten used to it, than the person who lived in the pet-free home.


RE: TV Causes Asthma?
By FITCamaro on 3/11/2009 1:42:05 PM , Rating: 2
I love watching people actually argue against someone who actually worked in a field for 10 years.

Reminds me of my friend, who's a mechanical/electrical/computer engineer, who had his 20 year old "girlfriend" argue with him about the fact that the reason a fan makes a room cooler is because the blades of the fan actually cool the air as it moves over them.


RE: TV Causes Asthma?
By FITCamaro on 3/11/2009 1:42:44 PM , Rating: 2
And let me add that it's not like he has a financial interest in proving his point.


RE: TV Causes Asthma?
By ZachDontScare on 3/11/2009 2:43:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I love watching people actually argue against someone who actually worked in a field for 10 years.


1) On the internet, anyone can claim anything. I'm a neural surgeon and an astronaut. In fact, I'm currently posting this from outer space. I'm vnc'ed into home, so if my ip address shows its from a US residential ISP, thats why.

2) 'appeal to authority' is usually a sign of a weak argument. What degrees a person has, how many years they've worked in a field, etc, do not determine the accuracy of any claims - its the claims themselves that matter. That is, they are not more correct because they come from a particular source. They are correct if they are correct, regardless of the source.


RE: TV Causes Asthma?
By Yawgm0th on 3/12/2009 1:00:29 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
1) On the internet, anyone can claim anything. I'm a neural surgeon and an astronaut. In fact, I'm currently posting this from outer space. I'm vnc'ed into home, so if my ip address shows its from a US residential ISP, thats why.

Shane McGlaun is a DT writer and puts his name on his posts. I will admit that I believe these particular claims because of this much right away, but even if I didn't he has put himself out there to be discredited if he is lying. If you truly doubt the veracity of his post you can look him up.

quote:
2) 'appeal to authority' is usually a sign of a weak argument. What degrees a person has, how many years they've worked in a field, etc, do not determine the accuracy of any claims - its the claims themselves that matter. That is, they are not more correct because they come from a particular source. They are correct if they are correct, regardless of the source.

When claims cannot be considered "correct" or "factual" because not enough information is understood (ie there is still research being done on Asthma), then a person's experience is one of the only relevant factors.

Correlation, on the other hand, does not imply causation. This study proves nothing more than a correlation between children who watch too much TV and asthma, but is purported to prove a cause-effect relationship. That is logically fallacious -- far more so than any appeal to authority.

In any case, Shane himself was using logic based on facts that are known about the physiological cause and effects of Asthma, which he just so happened to pick up from extensive education and experience relating to the subject.


RE: TV Causes Asthma?
By kattanna on 3/11/2009 3:44:56 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Reminds me of my friend, who's a mechanical/electrical/computer engineer, who had his 20 year old "girlfriend" argue with him about the fact that the reason a fan makes a room cooler is because the blades of the fan actually cool the air as it moves over them


im thinking i only need 1 guess to determine her hair color..


RE: TV Causes Asthma?
By Murloc on 3/11/2009 2:35:54 PM , Rating: 2
cats are good for the health, because you get used to them and don't catch asma.

I think the problem is that these children don't breathe fresh air, while others go out to play football or something.
In houses the air is sometimes bad, just think of those stupid parfumed sprays.


RE: TV Causes Asthma?
By ZachDontScare on 3/11/2009 2:46:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I happen to know a lot about asthma and I for one do not see how TV watching can give kids asthma.

Nor do I. But if you're a kid watching TV, you're probably inside, instead of outside playing baseball in the fresh air. Worse, you're probably inside in a nicely air conditionied, sealed, energy efficient McMansion breathing recycled air.

And THAT can lead to higher risks of asthma.


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