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Do people living near inner city main roads have more asthma needing treatment? Case-control study

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 16 March 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:676
  1. Anna Eleri Livingstone,
  2. Gavin Shaddick,
  3. Christopher Grundy,
  4. Paul Elliott
  1. Environmental Epidemiology Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT
  2. G Shaddick, statistician C Grundy, research assistant P Elliott, reader. Limehouse Practice, Gill Street Health Centre, London E14 8HQ
  3. A E Livingstone, general practitioner.
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Livingstone.
  • Accepted 9 January 1996

Hospital admissions for asthma in east London are 80% above the national rates. This may reflect the high incidence of acute asthma. Recent reports of a higher prevalence of wheeze1 2 or hospital admissions in children in association with traffic flow or proximity of residence to roads3 have highlighted concerns about the possible health effects of road traffic in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

In each of two computerised general practices in Tower Hamlets around 20% of the population have received computer prescriptions for bronchodilators, inhaled steroids, or inhaled anti-inflammatory drugs since 1990. The diagnostic computer coding for asthma showed a prevalence of treated asthma of 9% in one practice and 17% in the other (unpublished observation). We examined whether the proximity of residence to main roads was associated with these high prescribing rates for asthma in the two inner city practices.

Subjects, methods, and results

This case-control study took place in June 1994 in two adjacent general practices located near …

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