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Study finds link between BPA and asthma
BPA can be found on the inside of the food cans that line supermarket shelves.
March 1st, 2013
07:51 AM ET

Study finds link between BPA and asthma

The list of products containing bisphenol A is pretty long: it coats the inside of the food cans; it can be found in certain plastic containers; it is sometimes found on cash register receipts.

And the list of maladies linked to the chemical is growing longer.

The latest study, by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health, suggests a possible connection between BPA detected in urine samples of children and later problems with breathing.
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Asthma, eczema and hay fever may be linked to fast food
January 14th, 2013
04:26 PM ET

Asthma, eczema and hay fever may be linked to fast food

Teenagers and young children who eat fast food could be increasing their risk of developing asthma, eczema and hay fever, according to a study published Monday in the British Medical Journal's respiratory journal Thorax.

The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) study used written questionnaires completed by 319,196 13-  and 14-year-olds from 51 countries and by the parents of 181,631 6- and 7-year-olds in 31 countries.  They were asked if they had symptoms of the three conditions and about their weekly diet - including the types of foods they ate over the last year, and how often.

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Pregnant women who smoke may put kids at risk for severe asthma
June 1st, 2012
05:03 PM ET

Pregnant women who smoke may put kids at risk for severe asthma

One of the first questions a mom-to-be is asked by her doctor is "Do you smoke?" And while pregnant woman don't smoke in nearly the numbers they did decades ago, some still do.  

Almost 14% of American women smoke while pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, causing all kinds of problems including low birth weight, premature birth and SIDS. Now add something else to the list: asthma.

An intriguing new study suggests African-American and Latino children with asthma whose moms smoke while pregnant are more likely to have severe asthma as teens, even if their moms stop smoking after they are born.
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No more Primatene Mist in the U.S. after this year
September 22nd, 2011
01:56 PM ET

No more Primatene Mist in the U.S. after this year

The Food and Drug Administration is reminding doctors and patients that Primatene Mist, the only nonprescription asthma inhaler in the United States, can no longer be sold or prescribed after December 31.   Asthma patients are urged to get prescriptions for alternative medications, since this treatment option runs out at the end of the year, the FDA said Thursday.

Primatene Mist, an epinephrine inhaler, made by Armstrong Pharmaceutical Inc., contains chlorofluorocarbons, a chemical known to deplete the ozone layer.   After the United States signed an international agreement - The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer - to phase-out the compounds, the FDA announced in 2008,  that these inhalers could not be made or sold in 2012.

"If you rely on an over-the-counter inhaler to relieve your asthma symptoms, it is important that you contact a health care professional to talk about switching to a different medicine to treat your asthma," said Dr. Badrul Chowdhury, director of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Rheumatology Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

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September 7th, 2011
06:59 PM ET

Can you develop asthma later in life?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Wednesdays, it's Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society.

Question from  Chuck, Columbus, Ohio

I am in 55 and just started having difficulty breathing on occasion. I am a usually healthy, slightly overweight, never smoker. Could I have developed asthma at this age?

Expert answer

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Indoor mold poses key asthma risk for babies
August 2nd, 2011
12:18 PM ET

Indoor mold poses key asthma risk for babies

When infants are exposed to mold in the home, their risk for developing asthma more than doubles, according to a study published Tuesday in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. The study doesn't prove mold causes asthma, but it does suggest that exposure to mold during infancy is linked to the development of chronic inflammation of the lung airways, which causes wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.

Previous studies have shown that mold spores can travel, according to lead study author Tiina Reponen, a professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati. But she says this is the first study to suggest mold exposure in children under the age of one seems to play a critical role in a child developing asthma. The risk went up even more if one of the parents had asthma, according to the research.

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Asthma cases up in the U.S.
May 3rd, 2011
02:04 PM ET

Asthma cases up in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, asthma cases are on the rise. New statistics show that people diagnosed with asthma in the United States grew by 4.3 million between 2001 and 2009.

A new Vital Signs report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, finds nearly 1 in 12 Americans were diagnosed with asthma by 2009. Asthma costs have escalate from about $53 billion in 2002 to about $56 billion in 2007, which is about a 6% increase.

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June 9th, 2010
10:30 AM ET

Study: Racial disparities exist with asthma care

By Leslie Wade
CNN Medical Producer

African American and Hispanic children may not be receiving the same care and treatment for asthma as Caucasian children, even when they have the same access to care.

A study published in this week's medical journal, Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, examined more than 800,000 children who were covered by the same health insurance system provided by the U.S. military. They found the prevalence and severity of asthma were higher in black and Hispanic children than their white peers.

Researchers suspect that  just because patients used the same health plan didn't necessarily mean they were getting the same care. Experts say this may be a result of the differences in the way various ethnic groups utilize the health care system or differences in the treatments received.

"Whether they had the same trust of the system, willingness to access the system, whether the physicians provided the same quality of care, is not clear," says Dr. Elizabeth Matsui, pediatric allergist and immunologist, and adviser for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Researchers found that African Americans and Hispanics were less likely to see specialists, such as a pediatric allergist or pulmonologist, than white children. They say this could be due to a couple of factors, including whether minority families seek referrals, or whether doctors are less likely to offer them to  minorities.

Genetics and environment may also play a role, researchers say. Certain ethnic groups may be more predisposed to asthma than others. Doctors know indoor environments and pollutants can worsen asthma symptoms. And because the study had more blacks and Hispanics living in the south than whites – where there tend to be more indoor pollutants – this may explain some of the differences in health outcomes.

Researchers point out that more than health care insurance coverage is needed to provide care for asthmatic children regardless of their race or ethnicity

"This is an important finding because it tells us something we really didn't know before," says Dr. Thomas Croghan of Georgetown University School of Medicine, one of the study authors. Croghan is also a senior fellow at Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.  

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


June 4th, 2010
12:40 PM ET

Burgers hinder breathing?

by Madison Park
CNNhealth.com writer/producer

Burgers may be cheap, quick and juicy, but America's favorite fast food could have more health implications than just clogged arteries or indigestion.

European researchers found “high burger consumption was associated with higher lifetime asthma prevalence” for children, according to findings published in the recent issue of the journal Thorax. High burger consumption consists of eating three or more a week.

Dr. Gabriele Nagel in the Institute of Epidemiology at Ulm University, Germany and his colleagues analyzed data collected on 50,000 children for 10 years in 20 rich and poor countries to explore how diet could affect asthma or food allergies.

Parents in the study were asked about their children’s normal diet and whether they had ever been had asthma and/or have had wheeze.

Healthier foods like fruit, vegetables and fish, and the Mediterranean diet were associated with a lower lifetime prevalence of asthma.

Burgers,  not so much.

This could be because “fast food is rich in industrially hydrogenated vegetable fats such as margarine and meat from ruminant animals which are dietary sources of trans-fatty acids,” researchers wrote.

Health advocates have blamed burgers and fast food  for childhood obesity rates. Group tells Ronald McDonald to take a hike.

Researchers say it might not just be the burgers.  "The frequency of burger consumption could be considered as a proxy for unknown lifestyle factors which may vary depending on the societal context, environmental and other lifestyle factors," they wrote.

Read the abstract here.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


March 2nd, 2010
11:50 AM ET

Asthma advances

By Saundra Young
CNN Medical Senior Producer

23 million Americans, 7 million of those children, struggle with asthma.  The statistics are sobering.  Every day in the United States, 30,000 people have an asthma attack. 40,000 miss school or work because of the disease, emergency rooms see 5,000 asthma patients; 1,000 of those will actually be admitted to the hospital and 11 people will die.  Every day.  It's one of the country's most common, and most costly diseases.

During an asthma attack the smooth muscle around your trachea, or windpipe, constricts, squeezing down and causing shortness of breath and chest tightness.  There is no cure for this chronic disease, and for those who suffer with severe, persistent, debilitating asthma, quality of life can be downright miserable.  Treatment has been limited to medications that are often short lived and can potentially have side effects.

But according to Dr. Mario Castro, a pulmonologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri,  a breakthrough is close at hand.  Castro led a clinical trial testing the first ever non-drug treatment for severe asthma.  It's called bronchial thermoplasty and he contends that it actually prevents attacks (watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta's report here).

"What bronchial thermoplasty does is it allows us to go down into your windpipes, into your bronchial tubes and deliver a very controlled energy, a controlled heat to the lining of your windpipe," Castro said, "What it results in is that the muscle, the smooth muscle around your windpipe is decreased in the amount and size."

There are three treatments, three weeks apart and no overnight hospital stay.  Nearly 300 patients participated in the largest trial of it's kind here in the United States.  Those who actually got the treatment logged 84 percent fewer visits to the emergency room than the patients who didn't. 

Jenny and Michael McLeland, severe asthma sufferers their entire lives, were both got the thermoplasty.

Both of us experienced a huge change in our asthma symptoms." Jenny said. "The summer following our treatments we did RAGBRAI, which is a weeklong bike ride up in Iowa.  So it involved biking about 550 miles and camping over an entire weekend.  Prior to the treatment I couldn't sleep outside. I couldn't sit in the grass without getting wheezy.  So to be able to make it through an entire week with no problems was just phenomenal."

 Two and a half years after the treatment, Jenny hasn't had to make a single visit to the ER.  And Michael says he can't put a price on his new-found quality of life.

"I feel like I'm 18, 19 years old and doing anything, it feels like I can do anything I want to now.  I've done things that I didn't think I would be able to do. The quality of life– the expenses I don't have to worry about anymore, just kind of the emergency room costs and the physician costs and the medication was expensive."

Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association, says anything new that will help these patients is an important advance.

"It's a new concept. Nobody up until now has thought of dealing with asthma by changing the anatomy of the lung.'  But Edelman cautions there is a downside.  "It's a complex procedure.  Local physicians who treat asthma will not be ready to use the technique."

An FDA advisory committee has already recommended approval on several conditions—such as doctors getting the proper training and requiring that the procedure be performed only at a facility with full resuscitation equipment.  The FDA is still  considering the recommendation.

So, if you're on the highest dose of your asthma medication and feeling like there's no where else to go, help could be just around the corner.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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