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Entries in Respiratory Infections (3)

Monday
Jul092012

Dogs, Cats May Help Kids Avoid Respiratory Illnesses

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Having dogs or cats during infancy may actually protect children from respiratory illnesses during the first year of life, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests.

Finnish researchers followed 397 children from the time their mothers were pregnant through age 1.  They found that those who were exposed to dogs at home had fewer respiratory illnesses or symptoms compared with children who didn't have dogs.  Children with dogs also had less-frequent ear infections and needed antibiotics less often than children never exposed to dogs.

Cats offered similar protective benefits, but to a lesser degree.

The findings, wrote the authors, suggest that early contact with dogs or cats may ramp up infants' immune systems.

"We speculate that animal contacts could help to mature the immunologic system, leading to more composed immunologic response and shorter duration of infections," they wrote.

The amount of time a dog spends inside the home also has an impact on children's respiratory health.  Children who live in houses where dogs are inside less than six hours a day are at lowest risk for respiratory problems.  The authors believe it could be because dogs that are inside track less dirt.  More exposure to dirt leads to more exposure to different types of bacteria, which can help strengthen the immune system.

Other studies also suggest that pets can lower children's risk of certain illnesses.  Research out of the University of California, San Francisco published in June found that dust in homes where there are dogs may protect children against respiratory syncytial virus, a common cause of potentially severe cold-like illnesses.

But the Finnish study didn't include parents with allergies to dogs or cats.  Parents with these allergies are more likely to have children with the same allergies, and having pets around very young children who are allergic may be unsafe.

"If an infant has an allergic predisposition, their reaction will be more pronounced than an older child's," said Dr. Nina Shapiro, director of pediatric otolaryngology at UCLA's Mattel Children's Hospital, meaning that if an allergic infant is exposed to a dog or cat, it can potentially be dangerous.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul212011

Toxic Air Causes Long-Term Damage for Deployed Troops

U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury/Released(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- A growing number of soldiers who have served early on in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now being diagnosed with deployment-related lung disease from inhaling toxic waste from sources like dust storms, combat smoke, and burn pits used to incinerate material, human waste, debris, and chemicals.

While the U.S. Department of Defense reports that it has shut down all burn pits in Iraq -- replacing some with closed incinerators -- and plans to do the same in Afghanistan by the end of the year, new evidence suggests the health effects may be irreparable for soldiers who were already exposed.

A new report by researchers at Vanderbilt University found that nearly half of 80 soldiers in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, who could not pass a standard 2-mile run because of breathing problems, were diagnosed with constrictive bronchiolitis.  More than 80 percent of those with constrictive bronchiolitis were exposed to dust storms and more than 60 percent were exposed to burn pits, according to the report, which was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"I don't' think that we can say that our data says these exposures are the cause, at least not of yet," said Dr. Robert Miller of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "But I think it is very concerning."

Standard tests that are used to detect respiratory diseases, such as a pulmonary function test or CT scan, could not pick up the soldiers' condition.  Only a lung biopsy could detect constrictive bronchiolitis in the soldiers, he said.

"A large number of soldiers who have these respiratory disorders are being missed," said Miller, who suggested that more soldiers may have a form of respiratory condition and not know it.

And Miller said many doctors won't test further if standard tests fail to find anything.

"It's unusual for someone to take people normal on the tests and still give them a biopsy, but it's the only way these guys would've gotten the compensation that they needed," he said.

Miller said serious respiratory cases might be easier to detect if soldiers had a record of their breathing capacity before deploying.

"Everybody that is deployed should get a pulmonary function test before deploying," he said.  "If we have baseline breathing test on everybody we were seeing, then that would limit the amount of biopsies."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan192011

Researchers Link Periodontal Health to Respiratory Illnesses

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- New research published in the Journal of Periodontology suggests that periodontal disease may increase risk for respiratory infections such as chronic pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia. 

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease which affects gum tissue and other structures supporting the teeth.  Respiratory infections like pneumonia or COPD occur when bacteria from the upper throat are inhaled into the lower respiratory tract.  Researchers infer that oral pathogens associated with periodontal disease increase the risk of developing respiratory illnesses.

Donald S. Clem, DDS, the president of the American Academy of Periodontology, emphasized the importance of proper oral care to prevent or treat the development of periodontal disease.

"By working with your dentist or periodontist, you may actually be able to prevent or diminish the progression of harmful diseases such as pneumonia or COPD," he said.  "This study provides yet another example of how periodontal health plays a role in keeping other systems of the body healthy."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio