Publications by authors named "Miroslav Dostal"

33 Publications

Airborne Benzo[a]Pyrene may contribute to divergent Pheno-Endotypes in children.

Environ Health 2021 Apr 9;20(1):40. Epub 2021 Apr 9.

Department of Genetic Toxicology and Nanotoxicology, Institute of Experimental Medicine, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic.

Background: Asthma represents a syndrome for which our understanding of the molecular processes underlying discrete sub-diseases (i.e., endotypes), beyond atopic asthma, is limited. The public health needs to characterize etiology-associated endotype risks is becoming urgent. In particular, the roles of polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), globally distributed combustion by-products, toward the two known endotypes - T helper 2 cell high (Th2) or T helper 2 cell low (non-Th2) - warrants clarification.

Objectives: To explain ambient B[a]P association with non-atopic asthma (i.e., a proxy of non-Th2 endotype) is markedly different from that with atopic asthma (i.e., a proxy for Th2-high endotype).

Methods: In a case-control study, we compare the non-atopic as well as atopic asthmatic boys and girls against their respective controls in terms of the ambient Benzo[a]pyrene concentration nearest to their home, plasma 15-F-isoprostane (15-F-isoP), urinary 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG), and lung function deficit. We repeated the analysis for i) dichotomous asthma outcome and ii) multinomial asthma-overweight/obese (OV/OB) combined outcomes.

Results: The non-atopic asthma cases are associated with a significantly higher median B[a]P (11.16 ng/m) compared to that in the non-atopic controls (3.83 ng/m; P-value < 0.001). In asthma-OV/OB stratified analysis, the non-atopic girls with lean and OV/OB asthma are associated with a step-wisely elevated B[a]P (median,11.16 and 18.00 ng/m, respectively), compared to the non-atopic lean control girls (median, 4.28 ng/m, P-value < 0.001). In contrast, atopic asthmatic children (2.73 ng/m) are not associated with a significantly elevated median B[a]P, compared to the atopic control children (2.60 ng/m; P-value > 0.05). Based on the logistic regression model, on ln-unit increate in B[a]P is associated with 4.7-times greater odds (95% CI, 1.9-11.5, P = 0.001) of asthma among the non-atopic boys. The same unit increase in B[a]P is associated with 44.8-times greater odds (95% CI, 4.7-428.2, P = 0.001) among the non-atopic girls after adjusting for urinary Cotinine, lung function deficit, 15-F-isoP, and 8-oxodG.

Conclusions: Ambient B[a]P is robustly associated with non-atopic asthma, while it has no clear associations with atopic asthma among lean children. Furthermore, lung function deficit, 15-F-isoP, and 8-oxodG are associated with profound alteration of B[a]P-asthma associations among the non-atopic children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12940-021-00711-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8035778PMC
April 2021

Corrigendum to "Benzo[a]pyrene is associated with dysregulated myelo-lymphoid hematopoiesis in asthmatic children" [Environ. Int. 128 (2019) 218-232].

Environ Int 2019 Nov 28;132:105121. Epub 2019 Aug 28.

Icahn Institute of Genomics and Multiscale Biology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA. Electronic address:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2019.105121DOI Listing
November 2019

Greater susceptibility of girls to airborne Benzo[a]pyrene for obesity-associated childhood asthma.

Environ Int 2018 12 17;121(Pt 1):308-316. Epub 2018 Sep 17.

Department of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH, USA. Electronic address:

Background: Sexually dimorphic risk of obesity-associated asthma is posited to accelerate around puberty. Yet, the role of air pollution on the lean and obese asthmatic children has never been examined.

Objective: To compare whether a unit exposure to airborne benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) is associated with altered risks of asthma across the overweight/obese (OV/OB) control, lean asthmatic, and OV/OB asthmatic children, respectively, compared to the lean controls, before and after adjusting for oxidant stress markers (i.e. 15‑F2t‑IsoP, 8‑oxo‑dG, and Carbonyl).

Methods: Asthmatic and healthy control children, recruited from polluted urban and rural areas, were matched to ambient concentration of B[a]P. A unit increase in B[a]P and multinomial logistic regression on OV/OB control, lean asthmatic, and OV/OB asthma were compared across the sex- and age-groups.

Results: The median B[a]P was associated with a linear increase among the female children, according to OV/OB and asthma, respectively, and together, compared to the lean control girls (p = 0.001). While B[a]P was associated with positive relationship with 15‑F2t‑IsoP level among the OV/OB boys, the same exposure-outcome association was inverse among the OV/OB girls. One natural log-unit increase in ambient B[a]P was associated with 10.5-times greater odds (95% CI, 2.6-39.6; p = 0.001) the adolescent OV/OB boys, compared to the unit odds among the lean controls. In contrast, the adolescent OV/OB girls were associated with highest adjusted odds of the asthma (aOR = 15.4; 95% CI, 2.9-29.1; p < 0.001) compared to the lean control girls. An adjustment for 15‑F2t‑IsoP, and Carbonyls was associated with greater odds of asthma per unit exposure for the adolescent OV/OB girls (aOR = 16.2; 95% CI, 1.4-181.8; p = 0.024).

Conclusions: B[a]P exposure was associated with a leap in the odds of asthma among the OV/OB adolescents, particularly the girls, after adjusting for 15‑F2t‑IsoP and Carbonyls.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2018.08.061DOI Listing
December 2018

Modeling Unobserved Heterogeneity in Susceptibility to Ambient Benzo[a]pyrene Concentration among Children with Allergic Asthma Using an Unsupervised Learning Algorithm.

Int J Environ Res Public Health 2018 01 10;15(1). Epub 2018 Jan 10.

Departments of Environmental Health Sciences, Epidemiology, and Biostatistics State University of New York at Albany School of Public Health, Rensselaer, NY 12144, USA.

Current studies of gene × air pollution interaction typically seek to identify unknown heritability of common complex illnesses arising from variability in the host's susceptibility to environmental pollutants of interest. Accordingly, a single component generalized linear models are often used to model the risk posed by an environmental exposure variable of interest in relation to a priori determined DNA variants. However, reducing the phenotypic heterogeneity may further optimize such approach, primarily represented by the modeled DNA variants. Here, we reduce phenotypic heterogeneity of asthma severity, and also identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) associated with phenotype subgroups. Specifically, we first apply an unsupervised learning algorithm method and a non-parametric regression to find a biclustering structure of children according to their allergy and asthma severity. We then identify a set of SNPs most closely correlated with each sub-group. We subsequently fit a logistic regression model for each group against the healthy controls using benzo[]pyrene (B[]P) as a representative airborne carcinogen. Application of such approach in a case-control data set shows that SNP clustering may help to partly explain heterogeneity in children's asthma susceptibility in relation to ambient B[]P concentration with greater efficiency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15010106DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5800205PMC
January 2018

Altered vulnerability to asthma at various levels of ambient Benzo[a]Pyrene by CTLA4, STAT4 and CYP2E1 polymorphisms.

Environ Pollut 2017 Dec 12;231(Pt 1):1134-1144. Epub 2017 Aug 12.

Department of Genetic Ecotoxicology, Institute of Experimental Medicine, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, v.v.i., Vídeňská 1083, 142 20, Prague 4, Czech Republic. Electronic address:

Background: Within fossil- and solid-fuel dependent geographic locations, mechanisms of air pollution-induced asthma remains unknown. In particular, sources of greater genetic susceptibility to airborne carcinogen, namely, benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) has never been investigated beyond that of a few well known genes.

Objectives: To deepen our understanding on how the genotypic variations within the candidate genes contribute to the variability in the children's susceptibility to ambient B[a]P on doctor-diagnosed asthma.

Methods: Clinically confirmed asthmatic versus healthy control children (aged, 7-15) were enrolled from historically polluted and rural background regions in Czech Republic. Contemporaneous ambient B[a]P concentration was obtained from the routine monitoring network. The sputum DNA was genotyped for 95 genes. B[a]P interaction with SNPs was studied by two-stage, semi-agnostic screening of 621 SNPs.

Results: The median B[a]P within the highly polluted urban center was 8-times higher than that in the background region (7.8 vs. 1.1 ng/m) during the period of investigation. Within the baseline model, which considered B[a]P exposure-only, the second tertile range was associated with a significantly reduced odds (aOR = 0.28) of asthma (95% CI, 0.16 to 0.50) compared to those at the lowest range. However, the highest range of B[a]P was associated with 3.18-times greater odds of the outcome (95% CI, 1.77 to 5.71). Within the gene-environment interaction models, joint occurrence of a high B[a]P exposure range and having a high-risk genotype at CTLA4 gene (rs11571316) was associated with 9-times greater odds (95% CI, 4.56-18.36) of the asthma diagnosis. Similarly, rs11571319 at CTLA4 and a high B[a]P exposure range was associated with a 8-times greater odds (95% CI, 3.95-14.27) of asthma diagnosis. Furthermore, having TG + GG genotypes on rs1031509 near STAT4 was associated with 5-times (95% CI, 3.03-8.55) greater odds of asthma diagnosis at the highest B[a]P range, compared to the odds at the reference range. Also CYP2E1 AT + TT genotypes (rs2070673) was associated with 5-times (95% CI, 3.1-8.8) greater odds of asthma diagnosis at the highest B[a]P exposure.

Conclusions: The children, who jointly experience a high B[a]P exposure (6.3-8.5 ng/m3) as well as susceptible genotypes in CTLA4 (rs11571316 and rs11571319), STAT4 (rs1031509), and CYP2E1 (rs2070673), respectively, are associated with a significantly greater odds of having doctor-diagnosed asthma, compared to those with neither risk factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2017.07.057DOI Listing
December 2017

Oxidative stress in newborns by different modes of delivery.

Neuro Endocrinol Lett 2016 Nov;37(6):445-451

Institute of Experimental Medicine, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic.

Objectives: The aim of our study is to investigate the impact of the type of delivery - vaginal vs. cesarean section on oxidative damage determined as the lipid peroxidation (15-F2t-isoprostane (15-F2t-IsoP) in the cord blood of newborns and venous blood from mothers in two localities with different levels of air pollution: Ceske Budejovice (CB), a locality with a clean air, and Karvina, a locality with high air pollution.

Resutls: In Karvina, the concentration of PM2.5 was higher than in CB in the summer 2013 (mean±SD: 20.41±6.28 vs. 9.45±3.62 µg/m3, p<0.001) and in the winter 2014 (mean±SD: 53.67±19.76 vs. 27.96±12.34 µg/m3, p<0.001). Similarly, the concentration of B[a]P was higher in Karvina than in CB in the summer 2013 (mean±SD: 1.16±0.91 vs. 0.16±0.26 ng/m3, p<0.001) and in the winter 2014 (5.36±3.64 vs. 1.45±1.19 ng/m3, p<0.001). Delivery procedures differed by the type of anesthesia; at the Cesarean section in CB was used general anesthesia in 73.8% vs. 20.8% in Karvina (p<0.001), epidural anesthesia in CB in 26.2% vs. 77.1% in Karvina (p<0.001), at vaginal delivery was local anesthesia used in CB in 58.9% vs. 14.1% in Karvina (p<0.001). In CB was oxidative stress higher after vaginal delivery (101.7±31.0 pg 15-F2t-isoP/ml plasma) vs. Cesarean section (83.9±26.9 pg 15-F2t-isoP/ml plasma, p<0.001), no difference between the type of delivery was observed in Karvina.

Conclusion: No difference between the types of delivery was observed in mothers in CB as well as in Karvina. Oxidative stress in newborns in Karvina was significantly affected by the concentrations of PM2.5 and B[a]P in the polluted air.
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November 2016

Impact of Air Pollution to Genome of Newborns.

Cent Eur J Public Health 2016 Dec;24 Suppl:S40-S44

University of South Bohemia, České Budějovice, Czech Republic.

The Northern Moravia Region is the most polluted region in the Czech Republic by particulate matter (PM) and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (c-PAHs) as benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) by heavy industry and local heating. This specific situation was used to study the impact of air pollution on newborns in the exposed Karviná district and control district of České Budějovice. Biological material from newborns and mothers was collected in summer and winter seasons. This project is highly detailed, analyzing the concentrations of PAHs in ambient air and diet, in human breast milk, in the urine of mothers and newborns, using biomarkers of genetic damage as DNA adducts and gene expression analysis, biomarkers of oxidative stress as 8-oxodG adducts and lipid peroxidation (15-F2t-isoprostane immunoassay). All 400 children, for whom the biomarker data at delivery were obtained, will be followed for morbidity up to 2 years of age. The Northern Moravia Region seems to be to be a model area for studying the long-term impact of human health exposure to c-PAHs. Our observations will indicate possible genetic and oxidative damage in newborns, which may significantly affect their morbidity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.21101/cejph.a4536DOI Listing
December 2016

Ultrafine and Fine Particles and Hospital Admissions in Central Europe. Results from the UFIREG Study.

Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2016 11;194(10):1233-1241

1 Helmholtz Zentrum München-German Research Center for Environmental Health, Institute of Epidemiology II, Neuherberg, Germany.

Rationale: Evidence of short-term effects of ultrafine particles (UFP) on health is still inconsistent and few multicenter studies have been conducted so far especially in Europe.

Objectives: Within the UFIREG project, we investigated the short-term effects of UFP and fine particulate matter (particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 μm [PM]) on daily cause-specific hospital admissions in five Central and Eastern European cities using harmonized protocols for measurements and analyses.

Methods: Daily counts of cause-specific hospital admissions focusing on cardiovascular and respiratory diseases were obtained for Augsburg and Dresden (Germany), 2011-2012; Chernivtsi (Ukraine), 2013 to March 2014; and Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Prague (Czech Republic), 2012-2013. Air pollution and meteorologic data were measured at fixed monitoring sites in all cities. We analyzed city-specific associations using confounder-adjusted Poisson regression models and pooled the city-specific effect estimates using metaanalysis methods.

Measurements And Main Results: A 2,750 particles/cm increase (average interquartile range across all cities) in the 6-day average of UFP indicated a delayed and prolonged increase in the pooled relative risk of respiratory hospital admissions (3.4% [95% confidence interval, -1.7 to 8.8%]). We also found increases in the pooled relative risk of cardiovascular (exposure average of lag 2-5, 1.8% [0.1-3.4%]) and respiratory (6-d average exposure, 7.5% [4.9-10.2%]) admissions per 12.4 μg/m increase (average interquartile range) in PM.

Conclusions: Our findings indicated delayed and prolonged effects of UFP exposure on respiratory hospital admissions in Central and Eastern Europe. Cardiovascular and respiratory hospital admissions increased in association with an increase in PM. Further multicenter studies are needed using harmonized UFP measurements to draw definite conclusions on health effects of UFP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1164/rccm.201510-2042OCDOI Listing
November 2016

Associations between ultrafine and fine particles and mortality in five central European cities - Results from the UFIREG study.

Environ Int 2016 Mar 17;88:44-52. Epub 2015 Dec 17.

Helmholtz Zentrum München-German Research Center for Environmental Health, Institute of Epidemiology II, Neuherberg, Germany.

Background: Evidence on health effects of ultrafine particles (UFP) is still limited as they are usually not monitored routinely. The few epidemiological studies on UFP and (cause-specific) mortality so far have reported inconsistent results.

Objectives: The main objective of the UFIREG project was to investigate the short-term associations between UFP and fine particulate matter (PM)<2.5μm (PM2.5) and daily (cause-specific) mortality in five European Cities. We also examined the effects of PM<10μm (PM10) and coarse particles (PM2.5-10).

Methods: UFP (20-100nm), PM and meteorological data were measured in Dresden and Augsburg (Germany), Prague (Czech Republic), Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Chernivtsi (Ukraine). Daily counts of natural and cardio-respiratory mortality were collected for all five cities. Depending on data availability, the following study periods were chosen: Augsburg and Dresden 2011-2012, Ljubljana and Prague 2012-2013, Chernivtsi 2013-March 2014. The associations between air pollutants and health outcomes were assessed using confounder-adjusted Poisson regression models examining single (lag 0-lag 5) and cumulative lags (lag 0-1, lag 2-5, and lag 0-5). City-specific estimates were pooled using meta-analyses methods.

Results: Results indicated a delayed and prolonged association between UFP and respiratory mortality (9.9% [95%-confidence interval: -6.3%; 28.8%] increase in association with a 6-day average increase of 2750particles/cm(3) (average interquartile range across all cities)). Cardiovascular mortality increased by 3.0% [-2.7%; 9.1%] and 4.1% [0.4%; 8.0%] in association with a 12.4μg/m(3) and 4.7μg/m(3) increase in the PM2.5- and PM2.5-10-averages of lag 2-5.

Conclusions: We observed positive but not statistically significant associations between prolonged exposures to UFP and respiratory mortality, which were independent of particle mass exposures. Further multi-centre studies are needed investigating several years to produce more precise estimates on health effects of UFP.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2015.12.006DOI Listing
March 2016

Air pollution and childhood bronchitis: Interaction with xenobiotic, immune regulatory and DNA repair genes.

Environ Int 2016 Feb 2;87:94-100. Epub 2015 Dec 2.

Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California, Davis, United States.

Background: Gene-environment interactions have been investigated for diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancer etc. but acute disease like bronchitis has rarely been studied. We investigated interactions between air pollution (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and particulate matter <2.5 μm (PM2.5)) and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in EPHX1, IL10, STAT4 and XPC genes in relation to bronchitis in children aged 0-2 years.

Methods: A stratified random sample of 1133 Czech children, born between 1994 and 1998 in two districts, were followed since birth, of which 626 were genotyped. Pediatrician-diagnosed bronchitis episodes were obtained from the medical records. Central-site monitors measured air pollution exposure. We used multivariable logistic regression and estimated coefficients using generalized estimating equations. Interaction was assessed between pollutants and genes and associations in genotype-specific strata were presented. False discovery rate was used to adjust for multiple comparisons.

Results: There were 803 episodes of bronchitis with an incidence rate of 56 per 1000 child-months. We found significant gene-environment interaction between PAH and four SNPs (EPHX1, (rs2854461), STAT4 (rs16833215), XPC (rs2228001 and rs2733532)), which became non-significant after adjusting for multiple comparisons. PM2.5 interactions with two XPC SNPs (rs2228001 and rs2733532) remained significant after accounting for multiple comparisons and those with CC alleles had a more than doubling of odds, OR=2.65 (95% CI: 1.91, 3.69) and 2.72 (95% CI: 1.95, 3.78), respectively, per 25 μg/m(3) increase in exposure.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that the DNA repair gene XPC may play an important role in the air pollution-induced pathogenesis of the inflammatory disease bronchitis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2015.10.002DOI Listing
February 2016

[Health effects of ambient ultrafine particles--the project UFIREG].

Cas Lek Cesk 2015 ;154(4):176-80

Background: The project "Ultrafine particles--an evidence based contribution to the development of regional and European environmental and health policy" (UFIREG) started in July 2011 and ended in December 2014. It was implemented through the Central Europe Programme and co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. Five cities in four Central European countries participated in the study: Augsburg (Germany), Chernivtsi (Ukraine), Dresden (Germany), Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Prague (Czech Republic). The aim of the UFIREG project was to improve the knowledge base on possible health effects of ambient ultrafine particles (UFP) and to raise overall awareness of environmental and health care authorities and the population.

Methods: Epidemiological studies in the frame of the UFIREG project have assessed the short-term effects of UFP on human mortality and morbidity, especially in relation to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Official statistics were used to determine the association between air pollution concentration and daily (cause-specific: respiratory and cardiovascular) hospital admissions and mortality. Associations of UFP levels and health effects were analysed for each city by use of Poisson regression models adjusting for a number of confounding factors.

Results: Results on morbidity and mortality effects of UFP were heterogeneous across the five European cities investigated. Overall, an increase in respiratory hospital admissions and mortality could be detected for increases in UFP concentrations. Results on cardiovascular health were less conclusive.

Conclusion: Further multi-centre studies such as UFIREG are needed preferably investigating several years in order to produce powerful results.
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October 2015

Differences between the spectra of respiratory illnesses in children living in urban and rural environments.

Cent Eur J Public Health 2014 Mar;22(1):3-11

A longitudinal study launched in 1994 within the framework of the Teplice Programme aimed at comparing the respiratory morbidity in children born (1994-1998) and living in the districts of Teplice (TE) and Prachatice (PRA) in the Czech Republic. Lists of all illnesses of 960 children from birth to 10 years of age were obtained from paediatric medical records. From 26,471 diagnoses (in ICD-10 codes), 34.7% were diagnoses of upper respiratory infections (URI, J00-02, J06), 11.3% of tonsillitis, 10.2% of influenza, 9.4% of bronchitis, 8.9% of laryngitis/tracheitis (J04), 2.7% of otitis media, and 0.5% of pneumonia. The more polluted district of Teplice was divided into two parts: the town itself (TE-town) and the rest of the district (TE-district). The cumulative incidence rates of the above respiratory illnesses per 100 children per 10 years were 2,212 in TE-town, 2,192 in PRA and 1,985 in TE-district. In the first two years of life, the children from TE-town had a significantly higher incidence of laryngitis/tracheitis, influenza, otitis media, and pneumonia and significantly lower incidence of bronchitis and tonsillitis than children living in PRA. The incidence rates of laryngitis/tracheitis and influenza in TE-town persisted as the highest among the three regions till the age of 10 years. The incidence rates of bronchitis (from the 1st to 5th year) and URI (from 4th to 10th year) were highest in children living in PRA. When compared to TE-town, children in TE-district had a higher incidence of upper respiratory infections (1-8 years) and lower incidence of bronchitis (6-8 years). Children in the district of Prachatice had a significantly higher prevalence of allergic rhinitis and a lower prevalence of wheezing than children in the district of Teplice. Thus, the three regions differed by the spectra of respiratory illnesses rather than by overall morbidity and, hypothetically, the effects of air pollution were obscurred by differences in the degree of urbanization.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.21101/cejph.a3950DOI Listing
March 2014

Preterm birth, infant weight gain, and childhood asthma risk: a meta-analysis of 147,000 European children.

J Allergy Clin Immunol 2014 May 12;133(5):1317-29. Epub 2014 Feb 12.

Institute of Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité University Medical Center, Berlin, Germany; Institute for Clinical Epidemiology and Biometry, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.

Background: Preterm birth, low birth weight, and infant catch-up growth seem associated with an increased risk of respiratory diseases in later life, but individual studies showed conflicting results.

Objectives: We performed an individual participant data meta-analysis for 147,252 children of 31 birth cohort studies to determine the associations of birth and infant growth characteristics with the risks of preschool wheezing (1-4 years) and school-age asthma (5-10 years).

Methods: First, we performed an adjusted 1-stage random-effect meta-analysis to assess the combined associations of gestational age, birth weight, and infant weight gain with childhood asthma. Second, we performed an adjusted 2-stage random-effect meta-analysis to assess the associations of preterm birth (gestational age <37 weeks) and low birth weight (<2500 g) with childhood asthma outcomes.

Results: Younger gestational age at birth and higher infant weight gain were independently associated with higher risks of preschool wheezing and school-age asthma (P < .05). The inverse associations of birth weight with childhood asthma were explained by gestational age at birth. Compared with term-born children with normal infant weight gain, we observed the highest risks of school-age asthma in children born preterm with high infant weight gain (odds ratio [OR], 4.47; 95% CI, 2.58-7.76). Preterm birth was positively associated with an increased risk of preschool wheezing (pooled odds ratio [pOR], 1.34; 95% CI, 1.25-1.43) and school-age asthma (pOR, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.18-1.67) independent of birth weight. Weaker effect estimates were observed for the associations of low birth weight adjusted for gestational age at birth with preschool wheezing (pOR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.00-1.21) and school-age asthma (pOR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.01-1.27).

Conclusion: Younger gestational age at birth and higher infant weight gain were associated with childhood asthma outcomes. The associations of lower birth weight with childhood asthma were largely explained by gestational age at birth.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2013.12.1082DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4024198PMC
May 2014

Comparison of child morbidity in regions of Ostrava, Czech Republic, with different degrees of pollution: a retrospective cohort study.

Environ Health 2013 Sep 3;12(1):74. Epub 2013 Sep 3.

Institute of Experimental Medicine AS CR, Prague, Czech Republic.

Background: To confirm or refute the hypothesis that the morbidity of children (since birth to age 5) born and living in the heavily polluted (PM10, benzo[a]pyrene) eastern part of Ostrava, Czech Republic, was higher than the morbidity of children living in other parts of the city.

Methods: Ten pediatricians in 5 districts of Ostrava abstracted the medical records of 1878 children born in 2001-2004 to list all illnesses of each child in ICD-10 codes. The children were divided into four groups according to their residence at birth and thereafter. Most of the children in the eastern area were living in the city district Radvanice and Bartovice.

Results: We report on the incidence of acute illnesses in 1535 children of Czech ethnicity in the first 5 years of life. The most frequent acute illnesses (over 45% of all diagnoses) were upper respiratory infections (URI: J00-J02, J06). In the first year of life, the incidence of URI in 183 children in the eastern area - 372 illnesses/100 children/year - was more than twice as high as in the other 3 areas with a total number of 1352 children. From birth to the age of 5 years, the incidences of pneumonia, tonsillitis, viral infections (ICD-10 code B34) and intestinal infectious diseases were also several times higher in children living in the eastern part of Ostrava. The lowest morbidity was found in children living in the less polluted western part of the city.

Conclusions: The children born and living in the eastern part of the city of Ostrava had from birth through 5 years significantly higher incidence rates of acute illnesses than children in other parts of Ostrava. They also had a higher prevalence of wheezing, atopic dermatitis and allergic rhinitis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1476-069X-12-74DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3844449PMC
September 2013

Air pollutants, genes and early childhood acute bronchitis.

Mutat Res 2013 Sep 3;749(1-2):80-6. Epub 2013 May 3.

Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California, Davis, USA. Electronic address:

Background: Studies have reported gene-by-environment interaction for chronic respiratory conditions but none on acute illnesses in children. We investigated, longitudinally, whether genotype modifies the relationship of environmental exposures (second-hand tobacco smoke, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, particulate matter <2.5μm (PM2.5)) with acute bronchitis in children below two years.

Methods: A random sample of 1133 children, born between 1994 and 1998, in two districts of the Czech Republic, was followed-up from birth, of which 793 were genotyped. Pediatric records were abstracted for respiratory illnesses. Second-hand tobacco smoke exposure from household members was obtained through questionnaires and verified using urine cotinine. Air monitoring provided estimates of ambient polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and PM2.5. Additionally, we collected information on a range of potential confounders including breastfeeding history, indoor fuel use, other children in household, maternal characteristics, ambient temperature etc. DNA was extracted from tissues taken from the middle of the placenta, opposite the umbilical cord. We examined six single nucleotide polymorphisms (GSTM1, GSTP1, GSTT1, CYP1A1 MspI, EPHX1 exon 3 and 4) and one (EPHX1) diplotype. To investigate effect measure modification we constructed logistic regression models using generalized estimating equations (for repeated observations) stratified by genotypes.

Results: The EPHX1 low activity diplotype consistently imparts greater susceptibility to bronchitis from second-hand tobacco smoke, polyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and PM2.5. Each of these three classes of exposure also showed elevated risk for bronchitis in the presence of either one or two histidines at exon 3 and exon 4 of EPHX1. Additional effect modifiers include CYP1A1 and GSTT1.

Conclusion: Several xenobiotic metabolizing genes may modify the impact of second-hand tobacco smoke and ambient air pollutants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and PM2.5, on acute bronchitis in preschool children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2013.04.001DOI Listing
September 2013

Factors affecting the 27K DNA methylation pattern in asthmatic and healthy children from locations with various environments.

Mutat Res 2013 Jan-Feb;741-742:18-26. Epub 2013 Mar 1.

Institute of Experimental Medicine, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic.

Gene expression levels are significantly regulated by DNA methylation. Differences in gene expression profiles in the populations from various locations with different environmental conditions were repeatedly observed. In this study we compare the methylation profiles in 200 blood samples of children (aged 7-15 years) with and without bronchial asthma from two regions in the Czech Republic with different levels of air pollution (a highly polluted Ostrava region and a control Prachatice region). Samples were collected in March 2010 when the mean concentrations of benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) measured by stationary monitoring were 10.1±2.4ng/m(3) in Ostrava Bartovice (5.6 times higher than in the control region). Significantly higher concentrations of other pollutants (benzene, NO2, respirable air particles and metals) were also found in Ostrava. We applied the Infinium Methylation Assay, using the Human Methylation 27K BeadChip with 27,578 CpG loci for identification of the DNA methylation pattern in studied groups. Results demonstrate a significant impact of different environmental conditions on the DNA methylation patterns of children from the two regions. We found 9916 CpG sites with significantly different methylation (beta value) between children from Ostrava vs. Prachatice from which 58 CpG sites had differences >10%. The methylation of all these 58 CpG sites was lower in children from polluted Ostrava, which indicates a higher gene expression in comparison with the control Prachatice region. We did not find a difference in DNA methylation patterns between children with and without bronchial asthma in individual locations, but patterns in both asthmatics and healthy children differed between Ostrava and Prachatice. Further, we show differences in DNA methylation pattern depending on gender and urinary cotinine levels. Other factors including length of gestation, birth weight and length of full breastfeeding are suggested as possible factors that can impact the DNA methylation pattern in future life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2013.02.003DOI Listing
July 2013

Health impact of air pollution to children.

Int J Hyg Environ Health 2013 Aug 10;216(5):533-40. Epub 2013 Jan 10.

Institute of Experimental Medicine AS CR, Prague, Czech Republic.

Health impact of air pollution to children was studied over the last twenty years in heavily polluted parts of the Czech Republic during. The research program (Teplice Program) analyzed these effects in the polluted district Teplice (North Bohemia) and control district Prachatice (Southern Bohemia). Study of pregnancy outcomes for newborns delivered between 1994 and 1998 demonstrated that increase in intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) was associated with PM10 and c-PAHs exposure (carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) in the first month of gestation. Morbidity was followed in the cohort of newborns (N=1492) up to the age of 10years. Coal combustion in homes was associated with increased incidence of lower respiratory track illness and impaired early childhood skeletal growth up to the age of 3years. In preschool children, we observed the effect of increased concentrations of PM2.5 and PAHs on development of bronchitis. The Northern Moravia Region (Silesia) is characterized by high concentrations of c-PAHs due to industrial air pollution. Exposure to B[a]P (benzo[a]pyrene) in Ostrava-Radvanice is the highest in the EU. Children from this part of the city of Ostrava suffered higher incidence of acute respiratory diseases in the first year of life. Gene expression profiles in leukocytes of asthmatic children compared to children without asthma were evaluated in groups from Ostrava-Radvanice and Prachatice. The results suggest the distinct molecular phenotype of asthma bronchiale in children living in polluted Ostrava region compared to children living in Prachatice. The effect of exposure to air pollution to biomarkers in newborns was analyzed in Prague vs. Ceske Budejovice, two locations with different levels of pollution in winter season. B[a]P concentrations were higher in Ceske Budejovice. DNA adducts and micronuclei were also elevated in cord blood in Ceske Budejovice in comparison to Prague. Study of gene expression profiles in the cord blood showed differential expression of 104 genes. Specifically, biological processes related to immune and defense response were down-regulated in Ceske Budejovice. Our studies demonstrate that air pollution significantly affect child health. Especially noticeable is the increase of respiratory morbidity. With the development of molecular epidemiology, we can further evaluate the health risk of air pollution using biomarkers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijheh.2012.12.001DOI Listing
August 2013

Ambient nitrogen oxides exposure and early childhood respiratory illnesses.

Environ Int 2012 Feb 11;39(1):96-102. Epub 2011 Nov 11.

Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

Acute respiratory infections are common in children below 5 years and recent studies suggest a possible link with air pollution. In this study, we investigated the association between ambient nitrogen oxides (NO(x)) and bronchitis or upper airway inflammation. This longitudinal study was conducted in Teplice and Prachatice districts, Czech Republic. Children were followed from birth to 4.5 years of age. Data were compiled from medical records at delivery and at follow up, and from self-administered questionnaires from the same two time points. Air pollution monitoring data were used to estimate exposure over five different averaging periods ranging from three to 45 days prior to an episode. To quantify the association between exposure and outcome, while accounting for repeated measure correlation we conducted logistic regression analysis using generalized estimating equations. During the first 2 years of life, the adjusted rate ratio for bronchitis associated with interquartile increase in the 30-day average NO(x) was 1.31 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.07, 1.61] and for two to 4.5 year olds, it was 1.23 (95% CI: 1.01, 1.49). The 14-day exposure also had stable association across both age groups: below 2 years it was 1.25 (95% CI: 1.06, 1.47) and for two to 4.5 years it was 1.21 (95% CI: 1.06, 1.39). The association between bronchitis and NO(x) increased with child's age in the under 2 years group, which is a relatively novel finding. The results demonstrate an association between NO(x) and respiratory infections that are sufficiently severe to come to medical attention. The evidence, if causal, can be of public health concern because acute respiratory illnesses are common in preschool children.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2011.10.001DOI Listing
February 2012

Indoor coal use and early childhood growth.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2011 Jun 7;165(6):492-7. Epub 2011 Feb 7.

Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

Objective: To examine whether indoor coal combustion for heating, which releases pollutants into the air, affects early childhood growth.

Design: A prospective longitudinal study, with growth measurements extracted from medical records of the children's well-child care visits at age 36 months. Data were compiled from self-administered questionnaires and medical records, both completed at 2 time points: delivery and follow-up.

Setting: Teplice and Prachatice districts in the Czech Republic.

Participants: A total of 1133 children followed from birth to age 36 months.

Main Exposure: Maternally reported use of coal for heating.

Main Outcome Measure: The z score for height for age and sex at age 36 months.

Results: Adjusted for covariates, indoor coal use was significantly associated with a lower z score for height for age and sex at age 36 months (z score = -0.37; 95% confidence interval, -0.60 to -0.14). This finding translates into a reduction in height of about 1.34 cm (95% confidence interval, 0.51 to 2.16) for boys and 1.30 cm (95% confidence interval, 0.50 to 2.10) for girls raised in homes that used coal. The association between coal use and height was modified by postnatal cigarette smoke exposure.

Conclusions: Pollution from indoor coal use may impair early childhood skeletal growth to age 36 months. Because a significant proportion of the world population still uses coal indoors, the finding has public health consequences.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.294DOI Listing
June 2011

Genetic, biochemical, and environmental factors associated with pregnancy outcomes in newborns from the Czech Republic.

Environ Health Perspect 2011 Feb 5;119(2):265-71. Epub 2010 Oct 5.

Laboratory of Genetic Ecotoxicology, Institute of Experimental Medicine, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic.

Background: Oxidative damage to placental DNA can result in negative pregnancy outcomes, including intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and low birth weight (LBW).

Objective: We investigated associations between the levels of 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2´-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodG), a marker of oxidative DNA damage, in placental DNA, exposure to air pollutants during pregnancy, genetic polymorphisms in 94 selected genes, and pregnancy outcomes.

Methods: We studied 891 newborns who were IUGR- or LBW-affected or normal weight and were born between 1994 and 1999 in the Czech Republic in two districts with different levels of air pollution.

Results: We found nonsignificantly elevated 8-oxodG levels in the IUGR-affected group compared with the non-IUGR group (p = 0.055). Similarly, slightly elevated 8-oxodG levels were found in the LBW-affected group compared with the non-LBW group (p < 0.050). In univariate analyses, we identified single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with 8-oxodG levels, IUGR, and LBW. Exposure to particulate matter < 2.5 µm was associated with increased 8-oxodG levels in placental DNA and LBW. However, multivariate-adjusted logistic regression revealed that above-median 8-oxodG levels were the only factor significantly associated with IUGR [OR = 1.56; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.07-2.37; p = 0.022]. Above-median levels of 8-oxodG were associated with LBW (OR = 1.88; 95% CI, 1.15-3.06; p = 0.011). Other variables associated with LBW included sex and gestational age of the newborn, maternal smoking, and haplotypes in the promoter region of the gene encoding mannose-binding lectin 2 (MBL2). The role of air pollutants in the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes seemed to be less important.

Conclusions: Levels of 8-oxodG in placental DNA were associated with the risk of IUGR as well as LBW. Newborn's sex, gestational age, maternal smoking, and genetic polymorphisms in the promoter region of the MBL2 gene were associated with LBW incidence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1002470DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3040616PMC
February 2011

Air pollution exposure during critical time periods in gestation and alterations in cord blood lymphocyte distribution: a cohort of livebirths.

Environ Health 2010 Aug 2;9:46. Epub 2010 Aug 2.

Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California, Davis, USA.

Background: Toxic exposures have been shown to influence maturation of the immune system during gestation. This study investigates the association between cord blood lymphocyte proportions and maternal exposure to air pollution during each gestational month.

Methods: Cord blood was analyzed using a FACSort flow cytometer to determine proportions of T lymphocytes (CD3+ cells and their subsets, CD4+ and CD8+), B lymphocytes (CD19+) and natural killer (NK) cells. Ambient air concentrations of 12 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and particulate matter < 2.5 micrometer in diameter (PM2.5) were measured using fixed site monitors. Arithmetic means of these pollutants, calculated for each gestational month, were used as exposure metrics. Data on covariates were obtained from medical records and questionnaires. Multivariable linear regression models were fitted to estimate associations between monthly PAH or PM2.5 and cord blood lymphocytes, adjusting for year of birth and district of residence and, in further models, gestational season and number of prior live births.

Results: The adjusted models show significant associations between PAHs or PM2.5 during early gestation and increases in CD3+ and CD4+ lymphocytes percentages and decreases in CD19+ and NK cell percentages in cord blood. In contrast, exposures during late gestation were associated with decreases in CD3+ and CD4+ fractions and increases in CD19+ and NK cell fractions. There was no significant association between alterations in lymphocyte distribution and air pollution exposure during the mid gestation.

Conclusions: PAHs and PM2.5 in ambient air may influence fetal immune development via shifts in cord blood lymphocytes distributions. Associations appear to differ by exposure in early versus late gestation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1476-069X-9-46DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2927516PMC
August 2010

Exposure to air pollution in critical prenatal time windows and IgE levels in newborns.

Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2011 Feb;22(1 Pt 1):75-84

Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Epidemiology, University of California-Davis, CA 95616, USA.

The objective of this study was to analyze the mechanisms by which exposure to ambient air pollutants influences respiratory health may include altered prenatal immune development. To analyze associations between elevated cord serum Immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels and maternal air pollution exposure during each month of gestation. Total cord serum IgE was determined by the CAP system and mothers' total IgE levels by nephelometry for 459 births in the Czech Republic from May 1994 to mid-January 1997. Concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and particulate matter <2.5 microns in diameter (PM(2.5) ) were measured in ambient air, and arithmetic means were calculated for each gestational month. Log binomial regression models were used to estimate prevalence ratios (PR) for elevated cord serum IgE (≥0.9 IU/ml) adjusting for district of residence, year of birth, and in further models, for maternal IgE (a surrogate for atopy) and gestational season. Heterogeneity by maternal atopy status was evaluated for associations of air pollution and of cigarette smoke. In adjusted models, PAH and PM(2.5) exposures in the second month of gestation were each associated with a lower prevalence of elevated cord serum IgE. For an average increase of 100 ng/m(3) of PAHs, the PR was 0.69 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.50, 0.95); for 25 μg/m(3) increase in PM(2.5) , the PR was 0.77 (95% CI: 0.55, 1.07). Conversely, exposures later in gestation were associated with a higher prevalence of elevated cord IgE: in the fifth month, the PR for PAH exposure was 1.64 (95% CI: 1.29, 2.08), while for PM(2.5) in the sixth month, it was 1.66 (95% CI: 1.30, 2.13). In analyses stratified by maternal atopy, air pollutants were associated with altered cord serum IgE only among neonates with non-atopic mothers. Similarly, an association of cigarette smoke with elevated cord serum IgE was found only in non-atopic mothers. PAHs and PM(2.5) , constituents of both ambient air pollution and cigarette smoke, appear to influence fetal immune development, particularly among infants whose mothers are not atopic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1399-3038.2010.01074.xDOI Listing
February 2011

Comparison of the health of Roma and non-Roma children living in the district of Teplice.

Int J Public Health 2010 Oct 13;55(5):435-41. Epub 2010 Mar 13.

Institute of Experimental Medicine, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic.

Objectives: To compare the morbidity of 66 Roma and 466 non-Roma children born and living in a diffused type of habitation in the district of Teplice.

Methods: For each child, a complete list of illnesses that pediatricians recorded using ICD-10 codes for all physician visits and/or hospitalizations was obtained.

Results: At the age 0-2 years the Roma/non-Roma rate ratios (RR) of the incidence of influenza (RR 1.6), otitis media (RR 2.3), intestinal infectious diseases (RR 1.7) and viral illnesses (RR 6.3) were statistically associated with ethnicity. The higher incidence of bronchitis (RR 1.7) and pneumonia (RR 2.2) in the Roma children was associated with the low education of mothers and not with ethnicity.

Conclusions: At the age of 0-2 years the incidence of influenza, otitis media, intestinal infectious diseases and of viral diseases was significantly higher in Roma than in non-Roma children and was not associated with education of mothers. There was no increase in the morbidity of Roma children over the non-Roma children at the age of 2-6 years. The prevalence of allergies in Roma children was extremely low.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00038-010-0133-8DOI Listing
October 2010

Urinary 8-oxodeoxyguanosine levels in children exposed to air pollutants.

Mutat Res 2009 Mar 9;662(1-2):37-43. Epub 2008 Dec 9.

Laboratory of Genetic Ecotoxicology, Institute of Experimental Medicine AS CR, v.v.i., Videnska 1083, 142 20 Prague 4, Czech Republic.

Oxidative stress is believed to be one of the mechanisms of effects of air pollution to human health. We investigated levels of 8-oxodeoxyguanosine (8-oxodG), a marker of oxidative damage to DNA, in urine samples of 894 children from two districts in the Czech Republic: Teplice and Prachatice. We assessed the association between 8-oxodG levels and exposure to particulate matter of different size:
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mrfmmm.2008.12.003DOI Listing
March 2009

Prenatal exposures to persistent and non-persistent organic compounds and effects on immune system development.

Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol 2008 Feb;102(2):146-54

Center for Children's Environmental Health and Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

Immune system development, particularly in the prenatal period, has far-reaching consequences for health during early childhood, as well as throughout life. Environmental disturbance of the complex balances of Th1 and Th2 response mechanisms can alter that normal development. Dysregulation of this process or an aberrant trajectory or timing of events can result in atopy, asthma, a compromised ability to ward off infection, or other auto-immune disease. A wide range of chemical, physical and biological agents appear to be capable of disrupting immune development. This MiniReview briefly reviews developmental milestones of the immune system in the prenatal period and early life, and then presents examples of environmentally induced alterations in immune markers. The first example involves a birth cohort study linked to an extensive programme of air pollution monitoring; the analysis shows prenatal ambient polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and fine particle (PM2.5) exposures to be associated with altered lymphocyte immunophenotypic distributions in cord blood and possible changes in cord serum immunoglobulin E levels. The second example is a study of prenatal-polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) exposures and the foetal development of the thymus, the organ responsible for lymphocyte maturation. Mothers with higher serum concentrations of PCBs gave birth to neonates having smaller indices of thymus size. Finally, this report underscores the tight connection between development of the immune system and that of the central nervous system, and the plausibility that disruption of critical events in immune development may play a role in neurobehavioural disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1742-7843.2007.00190.xDOI Listing
February 2008

Early childhood lower respiratory illness and air pollution.

Environ Health Perspect 2007 Oct;115(10):1510-8

Department of Public Health Sciences, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.

Background: Few studies of air pollutants address morbidity in preschool children. In this study we evaluated bronchitis in children from two Czech districts: Teplice, with high ambient air pollution, and Prachatice, characterized by lower exposures.

Objectives: Our goal was to examine rates of lower respiratory illnesses in preschool children in relation to ambient particles and hydrocarbons.

Methods: Air monitoring for particulate matter < 2.5 microm in diameter (PM(2.5)) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) was conducted daily, every third day, or every sixth day. Children born May 1994 through December 1998 were followed to 3 or 4.5 years of age to ascertain illness diagnoses. Mothers completed questionnaires at birth and at follow-up regarding demographic, lifestyle, reproductive, and home environmental factors. Longitudinal multivariate repeated-measures analysis was used to quantify rate ratios for bronchitis and for total lower respiratory illnesses in 1,133 children.

Results: After adjustment for season, temperature, and other covariates, bronchitis rates increased with rising pollutant concentrations. Below 2 years of age, increments in 30-day averages of 100 ng/m(3) PAHs and of 25 microg/m(3) PM(2.5) resulted in rate ratios (RRs) for bronchitis of 1.29 [95 % confidence interval (CI), 1.07-1.54] and 1.30 (95% CI, 1.08-1.58), respectively; from 2 to 4.5 years of age, these RRs were 1.56 (95% CI, 1.22-2.00) and 1.23 (95% CI, 0.94-1.62), respectively.

Conclusion: Ambient PAHs and fine particles were associated with early-life susceptibility to bronchitis. Associations were stronger for longer pollutant-averaging periods and, among children > 2 years of age, for PAHs compared with fine particles. Preschool-age children may be particularly vulnerable to air pollution-induced illnesses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.9617DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2022654PMC
October 2007

Environmental tobacco smoke exposure in children in two districts of the Czech Republic.

Int J Hyg Environ Health 2008 Jul 28;211(3-4):318-25. Epub 2007 Aug 28.

Institute of Experimental Medicine AS CR, Prague, Czech Republic.

In the course of epidemiologic studies on the health of preschool children in the Teplice and Prachatice districts of the Czech Republic, we have recorded the frequency of smokers in the families of the children under study and the exposure of the children to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) by assaying urinary cotinine levels. Questionnaires were administered at the age of 3 years (children born 1994-1996) or 4.5 years (children born 1997-1998). Out of 1128 respondents, 35.6% of the mothers and 48.9% of their husbands/partners were smokers. Taking into account other adult smokers, 41.6% of children lived in households without smokers and 30.1% in households with one smoker. There were more smokers among both mothers and fathers in Teplice than in the Prachatice district (mothers: 41.1% vs. 28.5%, P=0.017; fathers: 50.8% vs. 46.5%, NS). Cotinine concentration in the urine was determined using a radioimmunoassay in 523 pairs of mothers and children at the age of 4.5 years. A level higher than 500 ng cotinine per mg creatinine (our cut-off for active smoking) was detected in 199 out of 523 mothers (38%). Using 20 ng/mg as the cut-off, 48.2% of 523 children were exposed to ETS. There were more ETS-exposed children in Teplice than in the Prachatice district (59.2% vs. 34.7%, P<0.001). When cotinine levels were measured in 479 of these children at the age of 6-7 years, the percentage of children exposed to ETS decreased to 36.5%. However, the difference between Teplice and Prachatice children persisted (44.6% vs. 27.8%). Our results suggest that in the Czech Republic, children under 5 years of age are significantly exposed to tobacco smoke and that more effective regulatory measures are needed to decrease the prevalence of smoking.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijheh.2007.07.001DOI Listing
July 2008

The DNA repair gene XPD/ERCC2 polymorphisms Arg156Arg (exon 6) and Lys751Gln (exon 23) are closely associated.

Toxicol Lett 2007 Jul 25;172(1-2):85-9. Epub 2007 May 25.

Laboratory of Genetic Ecotoxicology, Institute of Experimental Medicine, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Vídenská 1083, 142 20 Prague 4, Czech Republic.

In the context of a molecular epidemiology study dealing with the effects of individual genetic susceptibility on childhood respiratory morbidity, DNA repair genotypes for the XPD/ERCC2 gene in exon 6 (Arg156Arg) and exon 23 (Lys751Gln) have been analyzed by PCR/RFLP assays in DNA samples isolated from the fetal parts of placentas. The study was performed using a cohort of 729 children born in 1994-1998 in two districts of the Czech Republic. On the basis of these data, we tested the association between the two genotypes. The principal finding of this study is that the exon 6 and exon 23 polymorphisms in the XPD/ERCC2 gene are tightly associated, with persons who are homozygous CC in exon 23 being mostly (81%) homozygous CC in exon 6, and persons homozygous AA in exon 6 mostly (88%) homozygous AA in exon 23. This strong association may have serious consequences for the interpretation of cancer susceptibility and other molecular epidemiology studies dealing with the XPD6 and XPD23 genotypes, since the observed effects of the silent XPD6 polymorphism might be, in fact, the result of XPD23 polymorphism, which is connected with an amino acid substitution in the resulting XPD protein.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.toxlet.2007.05.020DOI Listing
July 2007

Coal home heating and environmental tobacco smoke in relation to lower respiratory illness in Czech children, from birth to 3 years of age.

Environ Health Perspect 2006 Jul;114(7):1126-32

Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate how indoor pollution from tobacco and home heating may adversely affect respiratory health in young children.

Design: A birth cohort was followed longitudinally for 3 years to determine incidence of lower respiratory illness (LRI).

Participants: A total of 452 children born 1994-1996 in two districts in the Czech Republic participated.

Evaluations: Indoor combustion exposures were home heating and cooking fuel, mother's smoking during pregnancy, and other adult smokers in the household. Diagnoses of LRI (primarily acute bronchitis) from birth to 3 years of age were abstracted from pediatric records. Questionnaires completed at delivery and at 3-year follow-up provided covariate information. LRI incidence rates were modeled with generalized linear models adjusting for repeated measures and for numerous potential confounders.

Results: LRI diagnoses occurred more frequently in children from homes heated by coal [vs. other energy sources or distant furnaces ; rate ratio (RR) = 1.45 ; 95% confidence interval (CI) , 1.07-1.97]. Maternal prenatal smoking and other adult smokers also increased LRI rates (respectively: RR = 1.48 ; 95% CI, 1.10-2.01 ; and RR = 1.29 ; 95% CI, 1.01-1.65) . Cooking fuels (primarily electricity, natural gas, or propane) were not associated with LRI incidence. For children never breast-fed, coal home heating and mother's smoking conferred substantially greater risks: RR = 2.77 (95% CI, 1.45-5.27) and RR = 2.52 (95% CI, 1.31-4.85) , respectively.

Conclusions: Maternal smoking and coal home heating increased risk for LRI in the first 3 years of life, particularly in children not breast-fed.

Relevance: Few studies have described effects of coal heating fuel on children's health in a Western country. Breast-feeding may attenuate adverse effects of prenatal and childhood exposures to combustion products.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1513340PMC
http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.8501DOI Listing
July 2006

Cytogenetic effects in children and mothers exposed to air pollution assessed by the frequency of micronuclei and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH): a family pilot study in the Czech Republic.

Mutat Res 2006 Sep 7;608(2):112-20. Epub 2006 Jul 7.

Institute of Public Health, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Copenhagen, DK-1014 K Copenhagen, Denmark.

A family pilot study was conducted in the Czech Republic to test the hypothesis that exposure to air pollution with particulate matter (PM) in children results in detectable effects indicated by a number of biomarkers of exposure and early effects. The frequency of micronuclei (MN) in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) was analysed to assess the cytogenetic effects in children and mothers living in two different areas. From each area two groups of children from a total of 24 families (mean age: 6.0+/-0.6 and 9.0+/-1.2 years) in a total of 47 children and 19 mothers (mean age: 33.6+/-3.9 years) participated. Chromosome aberrations determined with fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) painting for chromosomes #1 and #4 were analysed in 39 children and 20 parents. Teplice, a mining district, in Northern Bohemia was selected for the analyses of the effects in a population exposed to high levels of air pollution, especially during winter, and compared with a population from the rural area of Prachatice in Southern Bohemia. Significant higher frequencies of MN were found in the younger children living in the Teplice area as compared with those living in the Prachatice area (7.0+/-2.3 per thousand versus 4.9+/-2.0 per thousand, p=0.04). Higher levels of MN were also measured in the older children and the mothers from the Teplice area (9.2+/-3.7 per thousand versus 6.6+/-4.4 per thousand) and (12.6+/-3.4 per thousand versus 10.1+/-4.0 per thousand). The increased MN frequency may be associated with elevated carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (c-PAHs) concentration of the PM(2.5) measured in the ambient Teplice air, but other factors like genotoxic compounds from the diet or protective effect of micronutrients, which was not addressed in this pilot study, may also differ between the two areas. MN frequencies were found to increase with age in children. Lower MN frequency was found in boys as compared to girls. The result of the FISH analyses showed a low number of individuals with detectable levels of aberrations and no significant increases in genomic frequency of stable chromosome exchanges (F(G)/100) were found in children or parents from the Teplice area in comparison with those from the Prachatice area. The family pilot study indicates that MN is a valuable and sensitive biomarker for early biological effect in children and adults living in two different areas characterised with significant exposure differences in c-PAHs concentrations during winter.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mrgentox.2006.02.013DOI Listing
September 2006