Respiratory Health and Lung Function in Children Exposed to the World Trade Center Disaster

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Abstract

Objectives

To compare lung function in a representative sample of World Trade Center (WTC)-exposed children with matched comparisons, and examine relationships with reported exposures.

Study design

Study population consisted of 402 participants. Oscillometry, spirometry, and plethysmography were performed on WTC Health Registry (WTCHR) respondents who were ≤8 years of age on September 11, 2001 (n = 180) and a sociodemographically matched group of New York City residents (n = 222). We compared lung function by study arm (WTCHR and comparison group) as well as dust cloud (acute); home dust (subchronic); and other traumatic, nondust exposures.

Results

In multivariable models, post-9/11 risk of incident asthma was higher in the WTCHR participants than in the comparison group (OR 1.109, 95% CI 1.021, 1.206; P = .015). Comparing by exposure rather than by group, dust cloud (OR 1.223, 95% CI 1.095, 1.365; P < .001) and home dust (OR 1.123, 95% CI 1.029, 1.226; P = .009) exposures were also associated with a greater risk of incidence of post-9/11 asthma. No differences were identified for lung function measures.

Conclusions

Although we cannot exclude an alternative explanation to the null findings, these results may provide some measure of reassurance to exposed children and their families regarding long-term consequences. Further study with bronchodilation and/or methacholine challenge may be needed to identify and further evaluate effects of WTC exposure. Biomarker studies may also be more informative in delineating exposure-outcome relationships.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02068183.

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