Great News for Nature Lovers

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 30, 2016

Adult Woman Enjoying Time with Pet Dog

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that women residing in greener areas have a lower mortality rate.

Living in an area with lots of trees and other plants may actually lead to a longer life. In a recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Channing Division of Network Medicine and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that women residing in greener areas had a lower mortality rate.

The researchers used satellite imagery to rank the cumulative average greenness of the residential locations of more than 100,000 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study. They found that those women residing in the greenest areas had a 12 percent lower rate of non-accidental mortality compared to those women residing in areas with the least amount of vegetation. The study adjusted for mortality risk factors, such as age, race, smoking, and individual- and area-level socioeconomic status. Findings were consistent across all regions of the United States, as well as in urban and rural areas.

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Childhood Asthma Linked to COPD

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 21, 2016

Close up image of a cute little boy using inhaler for asthma. A series of asthma related white background studio images.

As many as 20 percent of children with asthma will go on to have potentially severe symptoms in adulthood.

Researchers have uncovered a connection between persistent childhood asthma and COPD in early adulthood. But what does this mean for children who suffer from asthma?

The development of persistent childhood asthma (having trouble breathing on an almost daily basis) is not well understood. In most cases, childhood asthma resolves with time, but as many as 20 percent of children with asthma will go on to have potentially severe symptoms in adulthood.

In the largest and longest United States analysis of persistent asthmatics to date, investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) found a link between persistent childhood asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in early adulthood. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that early lung function predicts lung growth later in life, regardless of asthma treatment and smoking exposure.

“This work tells us that persistent childhood asthma can develop into COPD, something that up until now has not been well described,” said Scott T. Weiss, MD, one of the paper’s senior authors and Co-Director of the Systems Genetics and Genomics Section of the BWH Channing Division of Network Medicine. “Children who had low lung function at the start of the trial followed a series of predicted growth patterns: most had reduced lung growth with time and a significant number would go on to meet the criteria for COPD.”

The study followed 684 participants in the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) from ages 5-12 until they were at least 23 years old. Each participant reported once a year to one of eight research centers across the U.S. and Canada to complete lung function measurements like spirometry, a test that records how much air a participant can breathe out in one second.

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