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Infant asthma and air quality: what is its impact?

Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children. About 10 to 15% of children globally had asthma symptoms in the last year. Prevalence increased by about 1% every 10 years in Europe, and by more than 2% in Africa and the Middle East, whereas prevalence had fallen by about 1% in Asia-Pacific, and was unchanged in America1.

The Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) describes it as “a heterogeneous disease, usually characterised by chronic airway inflammation. Asthma is defined by the history of respiratory symptoms such as wheeze, shortness of breath, chest tightness and cough that vary over time and in intensity, together with variable expiratory airflow limitation”.2

Asthma symptoms most commonly develop in early childhood.

Infant asthma

While genetic factors play a role, infant asthma is also exacerbated or triggered by viral respiratory infections and air pollution, outdoor or indoor. A baby spends most of its time indoor.

At birth, our lungs are not fully developed, with only 50 million pulmonary alveoli. Two years later, this number multiplies by six, reaching 300 million. Then, until 7 or 8, each alveolus enlarges. Infants breathe twice as much as an adult and also takes in more air per kilogram of body weight: the air quality is crucial to their development.

You might think that at home, your baby is in a peaceful bubble, protected from outside aggressions and air pollution. However, that is not the case. Indoor air is 5 to 10 times more polluted than outdoor air and there are on average 30 different pollutants in a dwelling.

Your baby in his room breathes not only the outdoor air, which is more or less polluted depending on where you live, but also a diverse array of well-known pollutants. Alongside the more easily identifiable culprits like exhaust fumes, tobacco, mold, and allergens - such as house dust mites and animal hair, you should also consider Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These VOCs, including one of the most toxic, formaldehyde, originate from wall and floor coverings, materials, paints, cleaning products, furniture, and cigarette smoke.

Particle pollution also causes breathing problems They pass through the nose or mouth and get into the lungs, reaching the alveoli and causing lung diseases. The smaller the particles, the deeper they get into the lungs. They can enter the bloodstream, leading to cardiovascular problems by blocking the small blood vessels.

According to Dr Qi Zhao from IUF - Leibniz Research Institute for Environment : “Evidence is growing that exposure to air pollution is a threat to children's respiratory health. (…) Babies' lungs are especially vulnerable because they are growing and developing. Our results suggest that babies who grow up breathing polluted air, even at levels below EU regulations, have poorer breathing as they grow into children and adults.This is worrying because previous research suggests that damage to lungs in the first year of life can affect respiratory health throughout life.”3

In addition, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA) “Maternal exposure to air pollution during pregnancy is linked to low birth weight and risk of pre-term birth.(…). There is also growing evidence that air pollution affects children's brain development, contributes to cognitive impairment, and that it may play a role in the development of some types of autism.4

Recognizing infant asthma

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), the signs and symptoms of infant asthma include

  • Fast breathing
  • Working harder to breathe (nostrils flaring, skin is sucking in around and between ribs or above the sternum, or exaggerated belly movement)
  • Panting with normal activities such as playing
  • Wheezing (a whistling sound)
  • Persistent coughing
  • Difficulty sucking or eating
  • Tiredness, not interested in normal or favourite activities
  • Cyanosis, a tissue colour change on mucus membranes (tongue, lips, and around the eyes) and fingertips or nail beds

For the Allergy & Asthma Network, “it can be difficult for doctors to diagnose asthma in infants because it is not easy to measure lung function in children who are of preschool age or younger. Diagnosis will rely on the parents and the symptoms they report, as well as the family's medical history.”5

Symptoms can mimic other illnesses, such as a chest infection or food allergy and will vary from child to child. The treatment of infant asthma involves medication. Bronchodilators treat asthma attacks, while inhaled corticosteroids are prescribed for long-term treatment (often given by a nebulizer or with an inhaler using a spacer with a mask).

How can I make My Home Sweet Home healthier?

  • Regularly ventilate your home, preferably in the early morning and in the late evening. Do it even more if you are doing renovations work or installing brand new chipboard furniture.
  • Take the time to read the ingredients on cleaning products and choose the simplest ones (white vinegar is the ultimate all-purpose cleaner).
  • When it comes to decorating: avoid dust and mites nests, prefer raw wood to plywood furniture and natural materials to carpeting
  • Regularly maintain all combustion appliances
  • Regularly clean filters and air vents
  • Install an air purifier where your baby spends the most time

To find out more and to take more precautions, you can read this : Healthy Housing Reference Manual

TEQOYA air purifiers can help alleviate infant asthma

These purifiers are particularly effective in mitigating persistent asthma symptoms, such as acute asthma attacks and wheezing. Our ionizers produce negative ions, effectively eliminating even the finest polluting particles - the most dangerous due to their ability to penetrate deep into the lungs and the bloodstream.

Negative ions naturally abound in the purest natural environments but disappear in urban or polluted environment. Beyond their air-purifying capabilities, these negative ions neutralise viruses and bacteria.

TEQOYA's unique, patented ionization system emits a quantity of negative ions comparable to what you would experience near a waterfall, enough to breathe as in the open air…

TEQOYA is THE natural, easy-to-live-with and environmental-friendly air purification solution

Energy-efficient, low-maintenance, no filters to buy and change, no ozone emissions.

TEQOYA's solutions are versatile and catering to various settings. For instance, the TEQOYA 200, which operates silently, is ideal for your child's bedroom. Meanwhile, the E500, equipped with a washable filter for ionized particles capture, offers multiple speed settings to meet your specific needs.

  1. The Lancet, Worldwide trends in the burden of asthma symptoms in school-aged children: Global Asthma Network Phase I cross-sectional study https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)01450-1/fulltext#seccestitle10
  2. European Respiratory Journal, Trends in worldwide asthma prevalence https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/56/6/2002094#ref-2
  3. European Air Society, Exposure to air pollution within EU limits linked to impaired breathing in children and asthma in adults https://www.ersnet.org/news-and-features/news/exposure-to-air-pollution-within-eu-limits-linked-to-impaired-breathing-in-children-and-asthma-in-adults/
  4. Health Policy Watch, Air pollution causes over 1,200 childhood deaths annually in the European Union https://healthpolicy-watch.news/air-pollution-causes-premature-deaths-in-european-children/
  5. Asthma & Allergy Network, Can babies have asthma? https://allergyasthmanetwork.org/what-is-asthma/asthma-in-babies-and-children/
 

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