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The urban environment has become more polluted and children are more likely to develop asthma. In suburban and rural areas, residential greenspace reduced the risk of childhood asthma, showing the importance of physical environments to overall well-being.

Children’s immature immune systems make them more vulnerable to developing asthma. Prevalence of asthma among children is growing, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, which is leading to a considerable global socioeconomic and health burden. The rise in urbanization, physical inactivity, and air pollution are contributing factors and greenspaces have been investigated as a way to combat asthma.

Researchers in Shanghai, China performed a city-wide cross-sectional study of kindergarten and elementary school children to find whether there was a relationship between asthma and residential greenspace around their homes. The vegetation index and air pollutant records of participants’ residential areas between 2016 and 2018 were calculated, and asthma symptoms were assessed in 2019.

Residential areas with higher vegetation indices had decreased air pollution, as measured by particulate matter. More greenspace was associated with reduced risk of asthma, especially in suburban and rural areas and in low-temperature regions.

According to the authors of the study, greenspace may improve asthma by increasing the biodiversity of the area, supporting higher levels of physical activity in children, relieving stress, and by minimizing air pollution. Greenery also promotes behavioral changes, encouraging children to spend more time outdoors, with notable benefits to mental health. Altogether, adding more greenspaces and supporting good health habits will help improve asthma symptoms in children.

More longitudinal studies are needed to assess the advantages and disadvantages of greenspace for asthma in children. Refined assessments on greenspace exposure can help urban planners maximize health and well-being in targeted areas. 

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Source:

Hu, Y., Chen, Y., Liu, S., Tan, J., Yu, G., Yan, C., Yin, Y., Li, S., & Tong, S. (2023). Residential Greenspace and childhood asthma: An intra-city study. Science of The Total Environment, 857, 159792. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.159792