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Your Healthy Family: Gas stoves and asthma in kids

Posted at 7:37 AM, Jan 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-19 07:37:28-05

Close to 40 percent of homes in our country have a gas stove. And new research shows more than 12 percent of childhood asthma cases in the U.S. can be attributed to a gas stove. So if you have one, should you take it out of your home?

"It's important to remember that there are a lot of other things that increase the risk of developing asthma, and this is just one of those things," Dr. Kristie Ross, the Chief of Pediatric Pulmonology at UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, said.

Dr. Ross said cooking with gas can release chemicals that can irritate a child's airways, like second-hand smoke and air pollution.

"In general, we do think that younger children are at an increased risk whenever you breathe in something that's irritating, because they breathe faster and the amount of air they breath in relative to the size of their lungs to their bodies is a little bit higher than as you get older," she said. "Another thing to consider is usually asthma develops earlier in childhood. Most children who are going to have asthma develop it in the preschool timeframe, or early school age."

She said asthma often starts with a viral infection. There are also inherited risk factors, like a family history of asthma, Eczema, and food or environmental allergies.

Where you live can also be a factor. Places like Cleveland, where Dr. Ross lives, is part of what's known as the asthma belt.

"The prevalence of asthma has been pretty steady over the last 20 to 30 years at around 10-12 percent of kids having asthma, but those rates are higher depending on where you live. So, anything we can do to help that out is something that we should consider," Dr. Ross said.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America published a report on "Asthma Capitals." It ranks cities across our country based on asthma prevalence, asthma-related ER visits, and asthma-related deaths. It also analyzed factors that influence asthma, like poverty, pollution, pollen count, smoking, and access to specialists. Lakeland is number four on the list of Asthma Capitals in our country, and Cape Coral is number 13 because of high rates of asthma and asthma-related ER visits.

Dr. Ross said if a new electric or induction range isn't in your budget, make sure to use ventilation when cooking with gas, like the fan in your range hood or an open window.