Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Running out of puff

Asthma is on the increase. In the UK in 2001 it was estimate that 5,100,000 people had asthma of whom 1,100,000 were children under 10. The UK, along with Australia, New Zealand and Ireland has onbe of the highest rates of asthma in the world. The Swiss are up there too. Their most recent figures show 6% of the population has asthma, up from 2% 25 years ago.

It has massive impacts on business- in 2001 over 12,700,000 working days were lost through asthma in the UK.

The causes are very complex - Tristan da Cunha's population has a 50% incidence of asthma because of a genetic predisposition - poor people living close to cockroaches are thought to be more susceptible, pollution from cars and factories contribute.

One of the theories is that asthma is a disease of hygeine. Children in well cleaned homes do not come into contact so much with bacteria and so do not build up the resistance within their bodies. An unintended consequence of cleanliness is perhaps greater susceptibility to asthma. There is also some evidence that certain types of cleaning fluids may create problems, which might explain why there is an Anglo-Saxon cluster of asthma suffering countries on the top of this leader board. Cherchez the cleaning culture.

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