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Free Content Population-wide preventive interventions for reducing the burden of chronic respiratory disease

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma impose a substantial burden of disease. This narrative review focuses on potential population-wide interventions that are likely to have an impact on these diseases. The developmental origins of adult disease commence in utero, with maternal nutrition being of particular interest. However, to date, trials of maternal allergen avoidance, dietary supplementation or probiotics have not shown consistent protective effects against asthma. Poor indoor air quality, especially from biomass fuels as well as second-hand tobacco smoke, is a well-recognised risk factor for chronic respiratory diseases. This can be modified by cleaner fuels, cooking stoves or heaters, and improved ventilation. Although allergens are a risk factor for childhood asthma, the results of interventions to reduce exposures have been disappointing. Traffic-related air pollution is associated with an increased incidence of asthma in children. Primary prevention of the adverse effects of air pollution has focused on the development of ambient air quality guidelines, but enforcement remains a challenge in many countries. Occupational asthma may be induced by sensitisers or irritants in the workplace. Prevention involves eliminating the agent or reducing exposure as far as possible, which is more effective than respiratory protective equipment. Smoking cessation remains a key proven preventive strategy for chronic respiratory diseases. There is now an international framework for tobacco control, and recent innovations include plain packaging of tobacco. Chronic respiratory diseases can be substantially prevented by the above population-wide interventions.
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Keywords: air pollution; asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; occupational asthma; prevention; tobacco smoke

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia 2: Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia; Allergy & Lung Health Unit, School of Population & Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Publication date: September 1, 2015

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

    Certain IJTLD articles are selected for translation into French, Spanish, Chinese or Russian. They are available on the Union website

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