Students in Kurla are most affected by asthma, revealed a six-month study conducted across 10 schools by KEM Hospital. The study was conducted to understand the prevalence of the disease among teenagers.
The Environmental Pollution Research Center (EPRC) at KEM Hospital conducted the study in which they interacted with 1,619 students (13 to 15 years) from 10 municipal and private schools in central and eastern Mumbai between September 2010 and February 2011.
“The prevalence of asthma was highest in children from schools in Kurla and lowest in schools from central Mumbai,” said Dr Amita Athavale, head, KEM’s chest medicine department and EPRC. The names of the schools have been withheld on request.
In one school at Kurla, 15.7% of the students surveyed suffered from asthma while at another, 14.2% students had the disease. The study found that fewer students in areas such as Dadar (3.44%) and Byculla (2.7%) suffered from asthma.
Dr Athavale attributed the high prevalence of asthma at Kurla to increasing air pollution caused by vehicular and industrial pollution and dust emanating from construction sites.
The study is in keeping with ongoing global research on the health impact of air pollution and the rise in allergic disorders. “Absenteeism from school and loss of working days are indicators of disease severity and lead to increased disability-affected life years,” the study states.
During the study, doctors also noticed a lack of awareness among children. “Parents should also be alert and not disregard complaints of breathlessness from their children,” said Dr Athavale.
“Asthma in children can get precipitated because of dust, smoke and air pollution. Kurla is dealing with problems such as heavy traffic, lack of proper ventilation, garbage burning, overcrowding and unhygienic conditions,” said Dr Ruta Menon, who has been running a children’s hospital at Kurla for the past 25 years.
Dr Menon’s patients include Hashim Khan, 12, who was diagnosed with asthma last year. “We stay in a crowded area with narrow lanes and small houses. A building is being constructed nearby and there is a lot of smoke and dust,” said his mother Sabitunnisa Khan, 30.
Another patient, Shruti Gaikwad, 9, has been using an inhaler for her asthma for the past few months. The Class 4 student suffers from continuous bouts of cough and cold. “Our locality is in an industrial area and the traffic congestion creates a lot of smoke,” said Shruti’s aunt, Swati Netke, 26, who lives in a chawl near Safed Pool, Kurla.