Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children in industrialized countries. In some communities, childhood asthma is so common that parents expect it as just another part of growing up, like tantrums and falling baby teeth. For instance, in many of our Latino communities, childhood asthma is referred to as “fatiga” or fatigue, and may not be recognized as a major illness. This may also prompt a sense that there is nothing that can be done because so many children have it, it is a fact of life. In our work, we have identified some schools in which one in every 5 children had symptoms of asthma.
So why, why, why do so many children have asthma? And why, at least until recently, it seemed to be on the up, and up, and up? No one really knows, but I will venture an educated guess.
During my years of medical research training, I was taught that air pollution did not cause asthma. It was believed that air pollution triggered asthma symptoms in those who already had it. That was the dogma for many years and that is what medical professionals have been taught.
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Dr. Luz Claudio is an environmental health scientist, mother and consultant, originally from Puerto Rico. She is a tenured professor of environmental medicine and public health. Luz recently published her first book: How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper: The Step-by-Step Guide. Dr. Claudio has internship programs and resources for young scientists. Opinions expressed in this blog are solely her own and may not reflect her employer's views.