Indoor environment and respiratory symptoms in children living in the Dutch-German borderland
To investigate the relation between indoor environmental risk factors and respiratory symptoms in 7-8-year-old children living in the Dutch-German borderland. A nested case-control study was conducted among children participating in a large longitudinal study on respiratory health. Parents of all 781 children with respiratory complaints and an equal number of randomly selected controls were asked to complete a questionnaire, including questions on indoor environment. The parents of 1191 children (76.2%) participated. Past exposure to environmental (OR = 2.73, 95% CI 1.14-6.67) as well as in utero exposure (OR = 2.28, 95% CI 1.15-4.53) to tobacco smoke, use of an unvented geyser for water heating (OR = 3.01, 95% CI 1.21-7.56), long-term exposure to dampness (OR = 2.98, 95% CI 1.10-8.28) or pets (OR = 2.18, 95% CI 1.39-3.42) increased the risk of asthmatic symptoms in 7-8-year-old children. A middle or low socio-economic status also increased the risk of asthmatic symptoms. An inverse association with asthmatic symptoms was seen for wall-to-wall carpeting (OR = 0.57, 95% CI 0.33-0.95) and insulation measures (OR = 0.46, 95% CI 0.25-0.83). Except for the presence of an unvented geyser, these environmental risk factors also presented a risk for coughing symptoms in children. This study showed an increased risk of respiratory symptoms in children exposed to several indoor environmental risk factors.