Asthma: December 2006 Archives

The Year in Asthma

asthmaPHILADELPHIA, Dec. 28 -- Asthma mortality rates are declining worldwide, largely due to increased use of inhaled corticosteroids to manage the disease. That was the conclusion of an international group of researchers, who presented data on world trends.

The following summary reviews some of the highlights of the year in asthma research. For fuller accounts, links to the individual articles published in MedPage Today have been provided.


Despite the decline in mortality reported at the 2006 annual meeting of American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology, asthma still accounts for one of every 250 deaths worldwide, many of which could have been prevented with better medical care.

Toyota may agree to provide health-care aid to asthmatics


toyotaToyota Motor Corp. intends to agree to a health-care subsidy plan as part of a settlement with asthma patients who sued Toyota and six other automakers, claiming exhaust fumes from diesel vehicles caused their disease, informed sources said.

The suit, now pending at the Tokyo High Court, seeks compensation from the manufacturers as well as the central government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The health-care plan was proposed by the metropolitan government last month. Toyota is the first carmaker indicating it intends to accept the plan, the sources said.

The Future Of Asthma Research

asthmaAsthma UK and the Royal Society of Medicine are offering people with asthma a unique opportunity to influence the future of asthma research.

Medicine and Me: Asthma Research will bring people with asthma, their families and carers, together with researchers and health professionals to exchange their views on the key challenges in basic asthma research.

The event aims to make science more accessible to people with asthma and ensure the strategy reflects their needs. It takes place on 19 February at the Royal Society of Medicine, London. Supported by AstraZeneca, it will include a mix of presentations and discussions, followed by an evening reception.

Allergy or Asthma Problems? Try a High Quality Air Filter

micropower guard By Will Hawkins, Heating & Cooling Expert

Q. We have family members that have allergies or asthma. What can we do about it?

A. Installing a Nature’s Home Media Filter can reduce these problems. The MicroPower Guard air filter will capture microscopic particles, and you only have to change the filter once every three months.

People spend about 90% of their time indoors. The EPA ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental dangers to the public. Why? Our homes are sealed, insulated and efficient. While this conserves energy, it locks in allergenic particles, infectious agents and other toxic agents. A quality filter can reduce or eliminate these household pollutants that can cause these health problems.

Percentage of asthmatic kids doubles in 10 years


asthmaJAPAN - The proportion of schoolchildren suffering from asthma has more than doubled in the last 10 years to the highest level ever, an education ministry survey showed Thursday.

"In light of the increase not only in asthma but also in other types of allergies, the growth can be attributed to various factors, including air pollution and lifestyles," an Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry official said. "It's difficult to pinpoint a cause."

The preliminary figures are based on health checkup data for about 3.36 million children from kindergarten through high school across the country. The ministry conducted the research between April and June.

Vectura signs US development deal for asthma therapy


vectura groupLONDON (AFX) - Vectura Group PLC has struck a US collaboration and development deal with a 'leading international pharmaceutical company' for its generic combination asthma therapy, VR315.

In a statement, the British drug developer said it will share the profits from any eventual sales of the product, and could receive up to 63 mln usd in milestone payments.

The therapy is thought to be a copycat version of GlaxoSmithKline PLC's top-selling asthma drug Advair, which generated sales of 3 bln stg last year and will lose patent protection in around 2010.

asthmaWALTHAM, Mass., Dec. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Decision Resources, one of the world's leading research and advisory firms focusing on pharmaceutical and healthcare issues, finds that approximately half of newly diagnosed patients with asthma do not receive any form of pharmacological treatment within 360 days of their diagnosis. The new report entitled Treatment Algorithms in Asthma finds that drug treatment rate is low because patients face significant out-of-pocket expenses for asthma treatment. In addition, physicians note that drug treatment rates might be low because the symptoms may improve upon treatment in an urgent care setting following which patients may not present to a physician again.

The report also finds that primary care physicians vary from recommended guidelines to prescribe GlaxoSmithKline's Advair as first-line therapy in cases where it is recommended to start with an inhaled corticosteroid.

State to reduce emission on school buses by 90 percent


exhaust pipeBOSTON - Traveling to school should become a healthier experience for Massachusetts children after state officials make good on their pledge to reduce school bus exhaust emissions by 90 percent over the next three years. 

Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Ed Coletta said Monday that the state would spend $22.5 million over the next three years to install exhaust filters on all school buses and regional transit authority buses throughout Massachusetts. Roughly 8,000 school buses and about 600 regional transit buses will be retrofitted.

“It’s clearly going to be very beneficial,” Coletta said about reducing the amount of particulate-filled soot spewed by the buses’ diesel engines.

“Children tend to breathe more deeply than adults. They’re clearly at a very tender age where the emissions could impact them. This is an important piece to make sure they’re protected,” he said.

Environmental group says study links smog and child asthma

childhood asthmaBALTIMORE - New findings show Maryland’s children are among the most likely in the country to have asthma, and the state’s high levels of air pollution only make their problems worse.

The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that Maryland is tied with Oklahoma for the third-highest level of childhood asthma in the nation, among the 37 states that had information available.

About 11 percent of the state’s children had asthma in 2005, says “The State of Childhood Asthma” report.

Children with asthma miss school, are sent to the hospital and can die from struggling to breathe, states the report, which was released last week.

MedImmune gets license to develop asthma drug


medimmune MedImmune has licensed an potential asthma treatment from a subsidiary of a Japanese company.

The Gaithersburg company will pay BioWa, a New Jersey subsidiary of Japan's Kyowa Hakko Kogyo, upfront, milestone and royalty payments for the rights to market the drug in all countries other than Japan and a few other Asian nations. BioWa will keep those rights.

MedImmune did not disclose the size of the payments it will make.

The drug, a monoclonal antibody under development, is in the first phase of clinical trials for asthma. It also might be used for other inflammatory diseases, company officials say.

novartis BASEL (AFX) - Novartis (nyse: NVS) AG and joint venture partner SkyePharma PLC (nasdaq: SKYE) have received market approval for their asthma spray Foradil Certihaler from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), following modifications to the product.

The product was recalled in Germany and Switzerland early this year on concern the inhaler was delivering variable doses of the drug.

SkyePharma has since been modifying the device and resubmitted it with the US regulator.

Asthma Prevalence High in Children Who Snore


asthmaISLAMABAD - Preschool children who regularly snore are more likely to have asthma and nocturnal cough than those who do not snore, according to the results of a study published in the August issue of Chest.

Dr. Jennifer K. Peat, of the University of Sydney, Australia, and colleagues measured the prevalence of habitual snoring and other respiratory conditions in preschool children between the ages of two and five years old. Nine hundred seventy-four children were included in the study.

Fifty-four of 516 boys (10.5%) and 48 of 458 girls (10.5%) were snorers on at least four nights per week. No association between snoring and age was observed.

Rhinoviruses Fatal to Lung Transplant Recipients

researchGENEVA, Switzerland, Dec. 15 -- A common cold virus can be deadly for lung-transplant recipients, reported researchers here.

Two of 11 recipients infected with human rhinoviruses developed progressive respiratory and graft dysfunction leading to their deaths, reported Laurent Kaiser, M.D., of the University Hospital of Geneva, and colleagues.

The findings flout conventional wisdom holding that human rhinoviruses only infect the upper respiratory tract, the investigators wrote in the second December issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Childhood Asthma Rise Remains a Puzzle

childhood asthmaNearly one in 10 American children now has asthma, a sharp rise that still has scientists searching for a cause, a CDC report concluded Tuesday.

An estimated 6.5 million children under age 18 (8.9%) are now diagnosed with the disease. The rate has more than doubled since 1980, according to the report.

At the same time, racial disparities show evidence of worsening. While 8% of white children are estimated to have asthma, 19% of Puerto Rican children and 13% of black children have the disease.

State of Childhood Asthma, United States: 1980-2005

childhood asthmaA new report on childhood asthma released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that death rates for asthma among children under age 18 have declined since 1999, while doctor visits for the condition have more than doubled over the past decade.

In 2005, nearly 9 percent of children -- 6.5 million children under age 18 -- were reported to currently have asthma. The percentage of children who had asthma more than doubled between 1980 and 1995, from 3.6 percent to 7.5 percent. In 2001, CDC introduced a more precise measurement of asthma and the five years since then the trend has remained stable at historically high levels.

City Kids with Asthma Lose Out On Preventive Treatment


asthma A new study by specialists at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and elsewhere suggests that only one in five inner-city children with chronic asthma gets enough medicine to control dangerous flare-ups of the disease.

The findings, reported in December's Pediatrics, are disturbing, the researchers say, because preventive therapy failure leads to overreliance on fast-acting "rescue" drugs after an asthma attack strikes and to more complications and increased risk of death.

The scientists interviewed parents of 180 Baltimore City children 2 to 9 years of age diagnosed with persistent asthma and studied pharmacy records. Overall, only 20 percent of the 180 children got the recommended amount of daily controller medication, which is six or more refills in a 12-month period. Sixty percent got too little therapy to fully prevent flare-ups, and 20 percent either got no medication at all or relied solely on quick-relief rescue drugs, which stop an asthma attack from progressing.

Fish and whole grains linked to asthma protection


fish and breadAn increased consumption of whole grains and fish could reduce the risk of developing asthma by about 50 per cent, suggests a new study from The Netherlands.

The International Study on Allergy and Asthma in Childhood 2 (ISAAC-2) looked at dietary intakes for a range of foods, including fish, fruits, vegetables, dairy and whole grain products, for 598 Dutch children aged between 8 and 13.

“Our findings suggest that a high intake of whole grain products and fish may have a protective effect against asthma in children,” wrote lead author Cora Tabak in the current issue of the journal Thorax.

Pharmac under fire over asthma

pharmacNew Zealand - Government drug-buying agency Pharmac is under fire from asthma sufferers as it again considers sole funding of an unpopular alternative to Ventolin.

Pharmac's decision last year to subsidise only one salbutamol inhaler, Salamol, failed as asthmatics overwhelmingly rejected the cheaper option.

Hospital emergency department doctors reported an increase in admissions of children who had refused to use Salamol because of the taste.

Fatty diets 'behind rise in asthma'


hamburgerFatty diets could be responsible for the increase in the number of people suffering from asthma, Australian scientists say.

Researchers at the Sydney-based Garvan Institute have found a link between dietary fats and the immune system, News Limited newspapers report.

They believe this could be the connection to a rise in inflammatory conditions such as asthma, which doubled between 1985 and 2001.

Local Doctors Develop New Asthma Test

asthma(KDKA) PITTSBURGH Doctors at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh have developed a new way to find out if children are suffering from asthma.

Often times when dealing with the youngest patients, doctors cannot label it asthma because patients are too young for a definitive diagnostic test called spirometry.

You have to be six or older, and be able to breathe in deeply and blow out all the air.

"That maneuver is very difficult and requires a lot of effort," said Dr. Jonathan Finder. "It's very hard to get children to understand the concept."

bad air Nearly half of the U.S. population lives in areas with unhealthy ozone levels, according to a 2006 report. For people with respiratory and lung diseases, especially the estimated 20 million Americans with asthma, "bad air" days pose an exceptionally high risk. The health risks associated with high levels of ozone aren't limited to summer months, and people can feel the effects of smog all year long.

Over the last decade, ozone levels have increased for many reasons, including higher temperatures and humidity, said John D. Cox, author of "Weather for Dummies." Despite this, people are still unaware that ozone is dangerous even at its lowest levels.

When inhaled, ozone can irritate lung airways and cause inflammation, and exposure to elevated levels of ozone can also increase the need for medical treatment and hospitalization in people with asthma. People who are active and people with asthma and other respiratory problems are at a higher risk on these days.

Program easing asthma among kids


asthma ACTAUSTRALIA - Asthma is the most-common medical condition amongst Canberra school students and a leading cause of absenteeism affecting one in six students.

There are about 62,400 people in the ACT under 15, and while not all of these are at school, one in six will be debilitated to varying degrees because of asthma.

Recognising this problem, the Federal Government, with the involvement of the Asthma Foundations, launched the Asthma Friendly Schools program to support children with asthma, and to enable the school staff to better handle asthma emergencies if they arise. The Asthma Foundation ACT is rolling out the program in Canberra. Schools are invited to participate and when they meet the required criteria they are certified "asthma friendly".

source City news 

David Allen, MDFor children who have persistent asthma of any degree, inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) treatment is recommended. However, there is ongoing debate with regard to the potential adverse systemic effects and safety of long-term use of these agents, particularly in children. This concern mainly stems from the findings from studies assessing the effects of ICS on lower-leg growth rate or the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.[1] The current consensus is that ICS are highly effective and, because their benefits clearly exceed potential risks, can be used safely in children who have persistent asthma.[2,3]

In this Expert Interview conducted by Helen Fosam, PhD, Medscape Allergy & Clinical Immunology, David B. Allen, MD, summarizes the current issues and evidence surrounding the risks and benefits of using ICS to treat asthma in children. David B. Allen, MD, is Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin. Dr. Allen is also the Director of Endocrinology and Residency Training at the University of Wisconsin Children's Hospital, Madison, Wisconsin.

Many urban children don't get asthma drugs


asthmaBALTIMORE, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers suggest only one in five inner-city children with chronic asthma gets enough medicine to control dangerous flare-ups of the disease.

The researchers at The Johns Hopkins Children's Center call the findings disturbing because preventive therapy failure leads to over-reliance on fast-acting "rescue" drugs after an asthma attack strikes and to more complications and increased risk of death.

The scientists interviewed parents of 180 Baltimore children from age 2 to 9 who were diagnosed with persistent asthma and studied pharmacy records. Overall, only 20 percent of the 180 got the recommended amount of daily controller medication, which is six or more refills in a 12-month period.

Kids With Asthma: Obesity More Likely


asthmaDec. 4, 2006 -- Children with asthma are more likely to be obese and less likely to exercise than those without the disease, a British study shows.

"Asthma was identified as a barrier to exercise by parents and children," write the University of Nottingham's Cristine Glazebrook, RGN, PhD, and colleagues in Pediatrics.

But physical activity is important for everyone, including those with asthma; nearly half the children with asthma in Glazebrook's study were overweight.

The researchers call on experts to develop strategies to promote exercise for children with asthma.

Tiny heater inside your lungs could end asthma inhalers


heating device A tiny heater that warms the lungs and airways is being used to treat asthma. The device, which is inserted through the nose or mouth, gives ten-second blasts of mild heat to the muscles to stop them contracting.

Research shows that the beneficial effects of three sessions of the device, now on trial at five hospitals in the UK, can last for more than two years.

Asthma is a major and increasing health problem, with 5.2 million people in the UK currently receiving treatment, including 1.1 million children.

snowVIENNA - Flowers are blooming on the slopes of Alpine ski resorts and bears are having trouble hibernating in Siberia amid a late start to winter that may be a portent of global warming.

Rare December pollen is troubling asthma sufferers as far north as Scandinavia, sales of winter clothing are down and Santa Claus is having to reassure children that his sleigh will take off on Christmas Eve, snow or no snow.

From Ottawa to Moscow, temperatures have been way above average at the start of the winter in the northern hemisphere - with some notable exceptions, including a rare snowstorm in Dallas, Texas.

ICC Could Be Hazardous To Your Children's Health


asthmaMore than 1 million residents of the Washington-Baltimore region already live close to heavily trafficked motorways where dangerous soot pollution is at levels that can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and respiratory disease. Building the $2.4 billion (and rising), 18-mile intercounty connector linking Interstate 270 to Interstate 95 through neighborhoods and near schools would worsen these health problems.

Maryland Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley (D) reiterated his support for the road following his election last month, but if the public demands protection for our children and the elderly, he still could take steps to prevent these health hazards.