Home Stress Adds to Child's Lung Damage by Air Pollutants

Stress increases susceptibility to lung function deficits caused by traffic-related air pollution

FRIDAY, June 24 (HealthDay News) - The presence of psychosocial stress at home is correlated with increased susceptibility to the effects of traffic-related air pollution (TRP) on lung function, according to a study published online June 23 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Talat Islam, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., from the Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles, and colleagues investigated whether psychosocial stress at home would modify the impact of TRP on lung function deficits in 1,399 children (average age, 11.2 years). Parental response to the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS, range 0 to 16) was used to assess psychosocial stress at home. Exposure to nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, total oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and surrogates of the TRP mixture, were estimated both at residences and at schools.

The investigators found that, in children with high psychosocial stress at home (parental PSS >4), each 21.8 parts per billion increase in NOx at home and school correlated with forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) deficits of 4.5 and 2.8 percent, respectively. The NOx effect was not significant in children from low-stress households. The effects were significantly larger on households with high stress than those with low stress (P = 0.007 for residential, and P = 0.05 for school NOx). Forced expiratory vital capacity (FVC) showed a similar pattern of association. The correlation between pollutants and FEV1 and FVC persisted after adjusting for sociodemographic factors and after restricting the analysis to non-asthmatic children.

"Children who grew up in households with high levels of psychosocial stress were more susceptible to the detrimental effects of traffic exposure on lung function compared to children who grew up in households with low parental stress," the authors write.

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