Do you want to help your child better with asthma? A new study by Northwest University says one way is to build a strong sense of family ties, especially in dangerous neighborhoods.
We already know that children in poor neighborhoods have a worse health than those in a better environment. However, there is little research on how to minimize the negative impact of a dangerous neighborhood on the health of the child. This study, led by Edith Chen, provides a useful indicator in this regard.
Environmental exposure to physical air pollutants and allergy-inducing substances is important for triggering symptoms of asthma in children who are vulnerable. However, the current study shows that there are also social factors that contribute to the deterioration of the health status of asthma in children. Among the most famous of them is a difficult neighborhood.
The findings of the study can help pediatricians make suggestions to families about managing childhood asthma. Image Credit: Shutterstock
However, having a loving and trustworthy family can help children with asthma optimize their clinical outcomes even in bad conditions in the neighborhood, researchers found in the study. The same buffering association did not appear when the children lived in safer and orderly conditions.
The study included over 300 Chicago children between the ages of 9 and 17, all of whom were already diagnosed with asthma by a doctor. Their streets were reviewed using Google View Street View. The purpose of the virtual "walk" was to look for signs that the streets are safe and quiet or vice versa.
Graffiti, barred windows, abandoned or disfigured cars, and sheltered homes were evidence of a backward and dangerous place to live. This gives a more objective indication of the degree of "danger and disorder" that participants pass each day as they pass through their neighborhoods to and from their homes.
In addition, using tools such as interviews, questionnaires, spirometric pulmonary function testing, and blood tests, the researchers collected specific information in different areas. First, they asked about the outcome of asthma in every child. This is related to the nature and level of symptoms, limiting activity due to asthma and lung volume. Secondly, they look at the behavior of the family with regard to child asthma: is the family regularly supporting the child in the management of asthma and is there a common positive mood between the family and the child? Finally, they assess biomarkers such as the number of certain immune cells and the response of these cells to the administration of glucocorticoids.
They found that children with a predictable and safe environment tend to cope well with their asthma, with few restrictions on normal activity and good lung function, regardless of the differences in support and love they receive at home. But in dangerous neighborhoods, the immune system in children with asthma appears to be in a state of greater vigilance, with immune cells showing greater cytokine production and greater resistance to inhibition by glucocorticoids.
However, with poor neighborhood quality, the quality of relationships with the family has led to clear effects. The higher the family's assessment of positive attitudes, the better the children can cope with their asthma. In such an environment, when the family helps the child cope with asthma every day, all asthma data shows a positive trend.
Researcher Edith Chen said that this study is important because most families have to remain in jail, even living in tricky neighborhoods. However, she said, "When children lived in neighborhoods that were in danger and disorder, the better their family relationships, the fewer symptoms and constraints in their activity, and their better pulmonary function. If pediatricians can offer suggestions to families about how supportive relationships can help deal with childhood asthma while still recognizing the realities of the ongoing difficulties in the neighborhood that many of these families face, this can help of families. "
Scientists are not aware of how this works. They may be, they think that children whose families provide a source of support and love can pay enough attention to the management of asthma symptoms with the help of their families. For example, others in their family help keep their routine management steady, such as taking their medication in the right way and at the right time, perhaps by protecting them from negative or destructive factors in the neighborhood. More research will be needed to confirm the mechanisms underpinning the positive role of family and parenthood in young asthmatics living in risky environments.
The study was published in the journal pediatrics on 18 July 2019
Social Conditions in Neighborhood, Family Relationship and Child Asthma, Edith Chen, Robin Heyen, Van Le, Makeda K. Austin, Madeline W. Shallow, Rachel E. History, Gregory E. Miller, Pediatrics Jul 2019, e20183300; DOI: 10.1542 / peds.2018-3300, https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2019/07/16/peds.2018-3300