Research identifies asthma risk in children

Researchers from the University of Glasgow have discovered a link between the development of asthma in childhood and low levels of physical activity.

The study, led by Dr Andrea Sherriff, lecturer in Statistics at the University’s Dental School, tested 3,000 children from birth until the age of 11 for signs of wheezing or breathing difficulties.

The team used the amount of time spent watching television per day as a measure of inactivity and concluded that “sedentary behaviour could lead to developmental changes in the lungs and wheezing illnesses in children”.

Dr Sherriff and her team found only 6 per cent of children whose breathing was healthy at 39 months developed asthma before they were 11, but this figure doubled in incidences where children were watching more than 2 hours of television a day.

The study is published in the journal Thorax.

Co-author Dr James Paton, from the University of Glasgow’s Division of Developmental Medicine, said: "We think the problem is inactivity, not watching TV. It is simply the best proxy marker for this.

"There may be a window in early in life when activity does something to protect the lungs.

"It may be that not sitting still makes you take deep breaths and that might be important in the long run."

Around 1.1 million British children have asthma and the condition kills around 40 a year.

For more information contact Ray McHugh in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3535 or email

First published: 4 March 2009

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