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Case-control study of hospital admission with asthma in children aged 5–14 years: relation with road traffic in north west London


BACKGROUND Evidence for an association between road traffic pollution and asthma is inconclusive. We report a case-control study of hospital admissions for asthma and respiratory illness among children aged 5–14 in relation to proxy markers of traffic related pollution.

METHODS The study was based on routine hospital admissions data in 1992/3 and 1993/4 for North Thames (West) health region within the M25 motorway. Cases were defined as emergency admissions for asthma (n = 1380) or all respiratory illness including asthma (n = 2131), and controls (n = 5703) were other emergency admissions excluding accidents. Cases and controls were compared with respect to distance of residence from nearest main road or roads with peak hour traffic >1000 vehicles and traffic volume within 150 m of residence, obtained by Geographical Information System techniques. Statistical analysis included adjustment for age, sex, admitting hospital, and a deprivation score for the census enumeration district of residence.

RESULTS Adjusted odds ratios of hospital admission for asthma and respiratory illness for children living within 150 m of a main road compared with those living further away were, respectively, 0.93 (95% CI 0.82 to 1.06) and 1.02 (95% CI 0.92 to 1.14).

CONCLUSIONS This study showed no association between risk of hospital admission for asthma or respiratory illness among children aged 5–14 and proxy markers of road traffic pollution.

  • childhood asthma
  • road traffic pollution
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