, Volume 27, Issue 6, pp 453-462,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 04 Apr 2012

Early respiratory morbidity in a multicultural birth cohort: the Generation R Study

Abstract

Ethnic disparities in the prevalence of asthma symptoms in children have been described. We evaluated to what extent the association between ethnic background and respiratory symptoms during the first 2 years of life could be explained by the mediating effect of risk factors for respiratory morbidity. The Generation R Study is a multiethnic, population-based birth cohort study. Pre and postnatal risk factors for respiratory morbidity were prospectively assessed by questionnaires. Information about ethnicity was available for 5,684 infants. The associations between ethnic background and lower respiratory symptoms at 12 and 24 months were evaluated with log-binomial regression models. Relative risks and 95 % confidence intervals (RR [95 % CI]) were computed for Cape Verdean, Moroccan, Antillean, Surinamese and Turkish ethnicity with Dutch ethnicity as the reference category. We found an increased risk of lower respiratory symptoms at 24 months in Antillean infants (1.32 [95 % CI 1.12–1.57]) that was mediated by early postnatal exposures (pets keeping, siblings, breastfeeding, daycare attendance, smoke exposure). Turkish infants also had an increased risk of lower respiratory symptoms at 12 and 24 months (1.14 [95 % CI 1.02–1.27] and 1.21 [95 % CI 1.07–1.38], respectively), partly explained by previous morbidity (eczema, infections and upper respiratory symptoms). There were no differences for Cape Verdean, Moroccan or Surinamese, as compared to Dutch infants. Hence, ethnic background was associated with respiratory symptoms during the first 2 years of life and this association was largely explained by mediating effects of known pre and postnatal risk factors for respiratory morbidity.