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Our new research – soon to be published in the Irish Medical Journal: Cardiovascular risk factors in healthy urban school children


Physical activity and cardiovascular disease risk factors in urban school children E Kilbride1, J Hussey2, G Boran1, P GreallyTallaght Hospital ,Dublin 242Department of Phyiotherapy,School ofMedicine, Trinity College Dublin

Abstract Although the  clinical signs of cardiovascular disease (CVD) are not evident until      adulthood, many of the risk factors have their roots in early childhood.   The aim of this study was to examine physical activity levels (PA) and the incidence of CVD risk factors in a small population (n=102) of primary  school children in Dublin. Risk factors measured included  overweight/obesity, blood lipids, blood pressure (BP), physical fitness and PA levels. Over a quarter of the group were overweight/obese (n=29,  28%). Despite relatively good fitness levels, PA levels were low with less  than half the group (n=44, 46%) participating in the recommended  1 hour/day. Fewer girls reported spending >1hour/day at PA compared to boys (n=14 v n=30). Six children had elevated cholesterol levels and five      children had higher than normal BP values. Sixteen children demonstrated      clustering of CVD risk factors and in those who were inactive the risk was greater. Our data suggest that in children as young as 10years significant risk factors already exist. Furthermore, the low level of PA in girls provides a target for health promotion programmes.



Seasonal Allergies (a detailed review article)

Seasonal allergy refers to allergic rhino-conjunctivitis occurring in response to outdoor airborne allergens only during specific seasons eg. late spring and early summer. Also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) or hay fever, the condition is distinguished from perennial allergic rhinitis (PAR) which occurs throughout the year. PAR tends to be associated with regular exposure to indoor allergens such as dust mite, animal dander and moulds. Other causes of PAR include drugs eg. non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and occupational exposures eg. bakers. There can be overlap between the two conditions, where SAR can occur in 30% of subjects with chronic rhinitis.


Top Tips For Hay Fever Sufferers

The pollen season approaches again. One quarter of Irish schoolchildren get hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis). Grass pollen is frequently the culprit. This can be a miserable time for children and particularly teenagers who have to take state examinations in June. If your child regularly suffers from hay fever symptoms then a visit to your GP soon would be a good idea. If their symptoms were severe last year, then starting on a regular non-sedating and long acting antihistamine and a steroid nasal spray before symptoms emerge may be the best recommendation.

There are several non-medical interventions for parents to consider:

Avoiding activity in the early part of the day when pollen counts are high.

  •  Avoid going out after storms or very windy days
  • Wearing nasal filters reduce rhinitis symptoms during the pollen season
  • Staying indoors while grass is being cut or when counts are expected to be high
  • Children should not be allowed play in cut grass
  • Keeping windows shut to prevent pollens drifting indoor
  • Pollen filters can be fitted to vehicles
  • Vaseline applied to nostrils may reduce pollen penetration of the nasal mucosa
  • Showering or bathing once in for the day
  • Wear wrap around sunglasses

Most of the above recommendations are based on expert consensus rather than randomised clinical trials.


Another reason to breastfeed !

Breast-feeding is associated with improved lung function in school-age children, particularly those with asthmatic mothers,” according to a study  in this month’s  American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.  After measuring lung functions of 12-year-old children, researchers found that “breast-fed kids overall had a ‘modest improvement’ in forced mid-expiratory flow (FEF50),” and “breast-fed kids whose mothers also had asthma also did better on two other lung function tests, forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume at one second (FEV1).”


Good night, sleep tight & watch those bed bugs don't bite !

In this months Clinical Microbiology Reviews 2012, 25;(1):164-92, Dogget and co-workers review the unexplained worldwide resurgence in Cimex lecticularis (Bed bugs) blood sucking insects. Unless the bug burden is very high they may not always be visible. They can cause skin lesions which may mimic urticaria and other forms of dermatitis. Proteins from their gut wall are allergenic in humans and may cause asthma symptoms akin to more common dust mite. Skin test reactivity to their allergens has been described. Sounds disgusting ! but  the author has seen at least one case last year where asthma was triggered by these insects.