Early childhood lower respiratory illness and air pollution

Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Rebecca James Baker, Poh Sin Yap, Miroslav Dostál, Jesse P. Joad, Michael Lipsett, Teri Greenfield, Caroline E W Herr, Ivan Beneš, Robert H. Shumway, Kent E Pinkerton, Radim Šrám

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Background: Few studies of air pollutants address morbidity in preschool children. In this study we evaluated bronchitis in children from two Czech districts: Teplice, with high ambient air pollution, and Prachatice, characterized by lower exposures. Objectives: Our goal was to examine rates of lower respiratory illnesses in preschool children in relation to ambient particles and hydrocarbons. Methods: Air monitoring for particulate matter < 2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) was conducted daily, every third day, or every sixth day. Children born May 1994 through December 1998 were followed to 3 or 4.5 years of age to ascertain illness diagnoses. Mothers completed questionnaires at birth and at follow-up regarding demographic, lifestyle; reproductive, and home environmental factors. Longitudinal multivariate repeated measures analysis was used to quantify rate ratios for bronchitis and for total lower respiratory illnesses in 1,133 children. Results: After adjustment for season, temperature, and other covariates, bronchitis rates increased with rising pollutant concentrations. Below 2 years of age, increments in 30-day averages of 100 ng/m3 PAHs and 25 μg/m3 PM2.5 resulted in rate ratios (RRs) for bronchitis of 1.29 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.07-1.54] and 1.30 (95% CI, 1.08-1.58), respectively; from 2 to 4.5 years of age, these RRs were 1.56 (95% CI, 1.22-2.00) and 1.23 (95% CI, 0.94-1.62), respectively. Conclusion: Ambient PAHs and fine particles were associated with early-life susceptibility to bronchitis. Associations were stronger for longer pollutant-averaging periods and, among children > 2 years of age, for PAHs compared with fine particles. Preschool-age children may be particularly vulnerable to air pollution-induced illnesses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1510-1518
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • Air pollution
  • Bronchitis
  • Children's health
  • Infant
  • PAHs
  • Particulate matter
  • PM
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • Respiratory illness
  • Volatile organic compounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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