The influence of environment, as represented by diet and air pollution, upon incidence and prevalence of wheezing illnesses in young children

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The purpose of this review is to consider the collective influence of factors affecting recurrent wheezing in young children.

Recent findings

Specific allergen sensitization, upper respiratory infections, genetic polymorphisms and environmental factors have collectively been reported in the prevalence of and induction of recurrent wheezing in young children. Two examples of environmental factors are diet and exposure to air pollution, both of which are potentially modifiable. Recent investigations provide evidence that a ‘Mediterranean diet’ and a diet that emphasizes polyunsaturated fatty acids during pregnancy and early infancy, as well as breastfeeding, may be protective for wheezing, and that exposure to traffic-related pollution may be an independent factor in the incidence of wheezing in young children.

Summary

Recent studies of early childhood wheezing demonstrate a potentially protective effect of diet and exposure to air pollution as a significant risk factor. An evaluation of collective factors influencing the presence of disease may help to broaden the clinical assessment and give parents and physicians the opportunity to potentially modify circumstances that promote the incidence of recurrent wheezing in infants and preschool aged children.

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