No link between gas cooking and asthma, allergies

Research suggests that exposure to gas cooking does not increase a child's risk for asthma and other allergic conditions.

The team found that children who had been exposed to gas cooking during the first 8 years of life did have a moderately increased risk (odds ratio [OR]=1.32) for mild nasal symptoms (sneezing, runny/blocked nose without a cold), but not lower respiratory tract infection, eczema, allergic sensitization, or bronchial hyper-responsiveness.

"Gas cooking is an important source of indoor nitrogen dioxide and other combustion products such as ultrafine particles and nitrous acid," explain Ulrike Gehring (Utrecht University, the Netherlands) and co-authors.

Based on previous research suggesting a potential link between exposure to gas cooking and allergic or respiratory symptoms in children, Gehring and colleagues enrolled 3590 children from the Prevention and Incidence of Asthma and Mite Allergy birth cohort study to take part in the study.

The children were followed up from birth (1996-1997) until the age of 8 years using annual questionnaires to record any respiratory or allergic symptoms, as well as exposure to gas cooking.

The only symptom significantly associated with ever gas exposure (86.5% children) compared with nonexposure in the overall cohort was mild nasal symptoms, with 15.7- 31.8% reporting this annually.

In girls alone, prevalent asthma was significantly associated with exposure to gas cooking (OR=1.97).

The team says that despite nasal symptoms and prevalent asthma in girls being associated with ever exposure to gas cooking, "this paper provides little evidence for an adverse effect of exposure to gas cooking on the development of asthma and allergies."

Gehring and co-workers suggest more research should be carried out to confirm their results, but hope that their findings should allay any parental fears regarding increased risks for allergy or asthmatic symptoms in young children who may spend a large amount of time indoors.

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