Air pollution and childhood asthma: recent advances and future directions

Purpose of review
Current levels of air pollution are consistently associated with asthma development and morbidity among children, suggesting that current regulatory policies may be insufficient. This review will describe recent studies that have examined specific emission sources or components of pollutants that may be associated with pediatric asthma and identify subpopulations that may be particularly susceptible to the effects of air pollution exposure.

Recent findings
Important advances include new characterizations of the effects of traffic-related air pollution in urban areas. They also include the application of novel exposure and outcome measures such as pollution estimates derived from land use regression modeling and biological markers of airway inflammation. Additionally, studies have identified host susceptibility characteristics that may modify responses to air pollution exposure, including polymorphisms in oxidative stress genes and epigenetic alterations.

Summary
Identifying specific sources and toxic constituents of air pollution and accurately assessing air pollutant-related asthma outcomes are needed to better direct control strategies. Further research is needed to identify additional host factors that confer increased susceptibility to air pollution exposure. Future therapy to reduce the adverse effects of air pollution on respiratory disease will likely depend on targeting susceptible populations for intervention.

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