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Pediatr Pulmonol. 2003 Aug;36(2):148-61.

Respiratory damage in children exposed to urban pollution.

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Environmental Pathology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.


Southwest Metropolitan Mexico City (SWMMC) children are chronically exposed to complex mixtures of air pollutants. In a cross-sectional arm of our study, we investigated the association between exposure to SWMMC atmosphere and nasal abnormalities, hyperinflation, and interstitial markings assessed by chest X-rays, lung function changes, several serum cytokines, and endothelin-1 in 174 children aged 5-17 years vs. 27 control children residents in low-polluted areas. Control children had no nasal lesions, and only one child showed an abnormal chest X-ray. SWMMC children exhibited nasal abnormalities (22%), hyperinflation (67%), interstitial markings (49%), and a mild restrictive pattern by spirometry (10%). Interstitial markings were associated with a decrease in predicted values of FEF(25-75), FEF(75), and the FEV(1)/FVC ratio. Boys had a higher probability of developing interstitial markings with age (P = 0.004). Blood smear findings included toxic granulations in neutrophils and schistocytes. SWMMC children had more serum IL10 and IL6 and less IL8 than controls. In a longitudinal arm of our study, we found a significant seasonal drop in FVC and FEV(1) associated with a 6-month period of high ozone and PM(10) levels. Our data strongly suggest that a lifelong exposure to urban air pollution causes respiratory damage in children. Moreover, a cytokine network becomes imbalanced, with a shift towards upregulation of anti-inflammatory cytokines. Consequently, these children are potentially at risk for developing chronic lung disease and other systemic effects later in life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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