Asthma is a respiratory condition that is characterized by the narrowing and swelling of the airways that make breathing difficult.
It is a worldwide health problem that is caused by numerous factors like heredity, smoking, air pollution, pollen, obesity, low birth weight, allergic reactions and household dust mites. Changes in weather and strong emotions are also known to exacerbate asthma.
The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) of Germany advised parents on Monday against taking babies with known family history of allergies to indoor swimming pools because doing so could increase the risk of an asthmatic attack.
The cause may come from nitrogen trichloride--trichloramine--that are released when the chlorinated water from the pool reacts with swimmers' body fluids such as sweat, urine, or other organic matter.
A statement from the agency said, "It is not possible at this stage to say definitively whether lung tissue can be damaged in the early stages (of life) and lead to asthma, because data on the effects of trichloramine are lacking."
"Worried parents of children less than two years old in families with high instances of allergies are advised by the UBA to refrain from baby swimming as a precautionary measure until it is clear whether the suspicion is confirmed."
Jochen Flasbarth, President of the UBA, advised swimmers to follow the basic sanitation rules and for swimming pool owners to do their best efforts to minimize the risk like using the latest water-treatment technology.
He also said, "Swimming is healthy for children and adults. In order for it to remain so, everybody should shower thoroughly before swimming in order to prevent dangers to health arising from trichloramine."
Two European studies support UBA's claim. A study in the UK conducted in 2003 revealed elevated levels of trichloramine-triggered proteins in the blood of young swimmers and even among parents who did not swim and only sat by the poolside.
A Belgian study published in 2006 showed that wheezing and asthma are significantly increased among early teenage years who use indoor swimming pool.
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