Wednesday, January 28, 2009

PreSchool Parenting: It's Chilly Outside

There is a general belief that no matter what, you should get your kids outside. If there is no rain falling in buckets, I tend to agree. But what is not fully realized is the effect that cold air can have on a child that already has a few breathing problems.

What is just coming to light is the way cold air interacts with airborne pollution. In the summer, we get clean air updates when goofy things like humidity or inversions take place, both the effect of air that fails to recirculate fast enough to get the bad stuff out and let the good stuff in. In the winter, something similar happens.

Ozone, according to Todd Miner, a meteorologist at Pennsylvania State University suggests that "higher temperatures combined with sunlight provide the conditions that promote ozone, which has well-known irritating effects on the respiratory tract." he is also quick to point out the inversions are not a summer-only occurrence. In fact, the different layers of air can trap pollutants close to the ground in many winter locales.

Dr. Stefan Worgall, chief of pediatric pulmonary, allergy and immunology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said "some people, especially those with asthma and nasal allergies, can react to cold air with cold-air-induced rhinitis, characterized by a runny nose and congestion. In some people, he said, it can even trigger an asthma attack."

While it might appear that your child has an endless runny nose, the cause might be something that we used to consider healthy when we were kids. Dr Worgall adds that if your child is already suffering from asthma, the chances of a cold-air occurrence of rhinitis increases from a normal 5% of the time to 50%.

This is also a good time to teach your child to sneeze into the bend of their elbow. I reinforce this concept on a regular basis. Do you?