Air pollution and development of asthma, allergy and infections in a birth cohort

Eur Respir J. 2007 May;29(5):879-88. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00083406. Epub 2007 Jan 24.


Few studies have addressed associations between traffic-related air pollution and respiratory disease in young children. The present authors assessed the development of asthmatic/allergic symptoms and respiratory infections during the first 4 yrs of life in a birth cohort study (n = approximately 4,000). Outdoor concentrations of traffic-related air pollutants (nitrogen dioxide PM(2.5), particles with a 50% cut-off aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 mum and soot) were assigned to birthplace home addresses with a land-use regression model. They were linked by logistic regression to questionnaire data on doctor-diagnosed asthma, bronchitis, influenza and eczema and to self-reported wheeze, dry night-time cough, ear/nose/throat infections and skin rash. Total and specific immunoglobulin (Ig)E to common allergens were measured in a subgroup (n = 713). Adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) per interquartile pollution range were elevated for wheeze (1.2 (1.0-1.4) for soot), doctor-diagnosed asthma (1.3 (1.0-1.7)), ear/nose/throat infections (1.2 (1.0-1.3)) and flu/serious colds (1.2 (1.0-1.4)). No consistent associations were observed for other end-points. Positive associations between air pollution and specific sensitisation to common food allergens (1.6 (1.2-2.2) for soot), but not total IgE, were found in the subgroup with IgE measurements. Traffic-related pollution was associated with respiratory infections and some measures of asthma and allergy during the first 4 yrs of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / analysis
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vehicle Emissions / toxicity*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Vehicle Emissions
  • Immunoglobulin E