May 08, 2018
Green living counter to asthma
Exposure to a wide range of natural vegetation may protect against asthma.
That's the conclusion of a study by Massey University’s Centre for Public Health Research.
Dr Geoffrey Donovan and Professor Jeroen Douwes linked health dfata, satellite imagery and land-use data to assess the lifetime exposure to the natural environment and vegetation types of almost 50,000 children born in New Zealand in 1998.
Professor Douwes says children who lived in greener areas were less likely to be asthmatic.
If they were exposed to a broader range of plants, they were even less likely to have asthma.
Other findings were consistent with previous research, with girls less likely to have asthma than boys, and Asian and Maori children having higher rates of asthma than Europeans.
Underweight or prematurely born children, the number of antibiotic prescriptions, and having a mother who didn’t receive any secondary school qualifications and/or smoked also increased the risk of asthma.
Professor Douwes says their hypotheis is the protective effects of exposure to green space and a more biodiverse environment are mediated by increased microbial exposure and gut microbial diversity, which in turn, promotes healthy immune responses and a reduced risk of allergies and asthma.
Reduced stress and increased physical activity, associated with living close to green space, may be another reason for the observed protective effects.
While native New Zealand plants appear to be protective, exposure to gorse and exotic conifers was a risk factor for childhood asthma, which may be due to the low biodiversity of these land-cover types
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