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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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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.


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