There has been little study on the effect of Asian dust exposure on respiratory symptoms among children who are vulnerable to environmental factors. In this panel study, we investigated the effect of Asian dust on respiratory symptoms among children with and without asthma, and their sensitivity. Children attending two elementary schools (137 total), and 23 children with asthma from cooperating medical institutions in Fukuoka prefecture were recruited. Subjects measured peak expiratory flow rate (PEF), and recorded asthma-like symptoms, cough, nasal symptoms and use of medication in a diary from April 1, 2013 to June 30, 2013. To assess exposure to Asian dust, we used Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) data. For the analysis of the association between Asian dust and respiratory symptoms, the case-crossover design and generalized estimating equation (GEE) models were used. Taking individual sensitivity to respiratory aggravation into consideration, the subjects were classified into three groups: children without asthma, children with asthma who do not use long-term preventive medication (CA) and children with asthma who use long-term preventive medication (CA-LTM). For CA, Asian dust exposure was significantly associated with asthma-like symptoms, with a hazard ratio of 5.17 (95%CI: 1.02=26.12) at Lag0, and the change in %maxPEF, -1.65% (95%CI:-2.82, -0.48) at Lag0. For children without asthma, a statistically significant association was found between Asian dust exposure and the change in %maxPEF, -0.56% (95%CI: -1.31, -0.08) at Lag1. However, no adverse effects were observed in CA-LTM. Temperature had significant effects on %maxPEF for three groups. Asian dust, photochemical oxidant and pollen caused simultaneously additive adverse effects on nasal symptoms for children without asthma. This study suggests the possibility that long-term preventive medication to manage asthma may suppress aggravation of respiratory symptoms due to Asian dust and may be an effective prevention.
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