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Times of India
08 May 2010
By Pratibha Masand
Mumbai, India

A study done by the air pollution and public health department in KEM Hospital on six central Mumbai schools has revealed that 2.4% of the students of Class VIII and IX have been diagnosed as suffering from asthma. What is more shocking is that 5.15% of the students fall in the grey zone, which means that they display symptoms for respiratory problems, but have never been diagnosed.

“We screened a total of 1,163 students from six schools in central Mumbai. We found that 60 students (5.15%) had a low rate of air that comes out during exhalation and suffered from breathlessness –especially following exposures to trigger factors, While wheezing, nocturnal cough or frequent colds were other commonly seen symptoms. The figure, 5.15%, is and all these symptoms indicate that the students may have some respiratory problems, including asthma. But, their parents may not be aware of them,” said Dr Amita Athavale, whose team has conducted the survey.

In the survey, two schools of Byculla and one from Prabhadevi, Sion, Parel and Dadar each were surveyed. The study revealed that the most common factors that triggered breathlessness in children included running, outdoor games, smoke, dust exposure and common colds. While running had most students gasping for breath, outdoor games, dust exposure and running combined were the second-most prevalent factors for leaving children breathless, said the survey report.

According to chest physician Dr Pramod Niphadkar, asthma has always been an underdiagnosed and undertreated problem. “The survey numbers suggest that a total of around 7.5% students suffer from asthma, which is almost three times the national average. With asthma, social stigma is such that the patients suffering from it will never admit to it.”

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