Hopes high of fall in asthma rate
RESEARCHERS are hoping a study into asthma in Scotland will show the smoking ban has had an impact north of the Border.
For the past 45 years, the Aberdeen Schools Asthma Survey has provided researchers in the city with an unparalleled insight into the prevalence of asthma in Scotland.
Previous research has shown asthma levels have begun flattening out following a significant risebetween 1964 and 1999.
Dr Steve Turner, the respiratory paediatrician heading the research, said the introduction of the smoking ban in public places and the promotion of heathy lifestyle and diet choices for children could signal a fall in the asthma rate for the first time in almost 50 years.
Next month, questionnaires will be sent to schools in the city in the latest follow-up to a study which was launched in 1964.
Dr Turner said: "(The findings] might suggest that the obesity rise is in part linked to the rise in asthma. But there may be a third factor such as lifestyle changes, exercise and diet.
"Asthma is a complex condition where both genetic and environmental factors are important. It is unlikely that the genetic composition of people in Aberdeen will have changed substantially over four years. A drop is more likely to be the result of environmental factors. And since 2004 the anti-smoking legislation has come in and that might be a factor.
"The emphasis in schools in Aberdeen about healthy living and healthy diet has also been a big change."
Dr Turner added: "It is quite plausible that the lifestyles of children in Aberdeen and in Scotland in general has changed over the last five years and that might explain why the asthma rate is dropping.
"And it would be wonderful news if it can be confirmed that this cocktail of changes has led a drop in the prevalence in asthma in the latest study."
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