Acute exposure to pollen and airway inflammation in adolescents.

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Pollen exposure is known to exacerbate allergic asthma and allergic rhinitis symptoms, yet few studies have investigated if exposure to pollen affects lung function or airway inflammation in healthy children.


We evaluated the extent to which higher pollen exposure was associated with differences in airway inflammation and lung function among 490 early adolescent participants (mean age of 12.9 years) in Project Viva, a prebirth cohort based in Massachusetts. We obtained regional daily total pollen counts, including tree, grass, and weed pollen, from a Rotorod pollen counter. We evaluated associations of 3- and 7-day moving averages of pollen with fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) and lung function using linear regression models and evaluated the linearity of associations with penalized splines. We tested if associations of pollen with FeNO and lung function were modified by current asthma diagnosis, history of allergic rhinitis, aeroallergen sensitivity, temperature, precipitation, and air pollution.


Three- and 7-day median pollen concentrations were 19.0 grains/m (IQR: 73.4) and 20.9 grains/m (IQR: 89.7). In main models, higher concentrations of total pollen over the preceding 3 and 7 days were associated with a 4.6% (95% CI: 0.1,9.2) and 7.4% (95% CI: 0.9,14.3) higher FeNO per IQR of pollen, respectively. We did not find associations of pollen with lung function in main models. Asthma, allergic rhinitis, precipitation, and air pollution (nitrogen dioxide and ozone) modified associations of pollen with lung function (P  < 0.1), while temperature, sex, and aeroallergen sensitization did not.


Short-term exposure to pollen was associated with higher FeNO in early adolescents, even in the absence of allergic sensitization and asthma.

Pediatr Pulmonol
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Acute exposure to pollen and airway inflammation in adolescents.
Nassikas NJ, Luttmann-Gibson H, Rifas-Shiman SL, Oken E, Gold DR, Rice MB