Volume 24 (2014) Issue 3 Pages 230-238
Background: Use of fuel heaters is associated with childhood asthma. However, no studies have evaluated the associations of flue use and mechanical ventilation (ventilation) with asthma symptoms in schoolchildren.
Methods: This cross-sectional study investigated schoolchildren in grades 1 through 6 (age 6–12 years) in Sapporo, Japan. From November 2008 through January 2009, parents completed questionnaires regarding their home environment and their children’s asthma symptoms.
Results: In total, 4445 (69.5%) parents of 6393 children returned the questionnaire. After excluding incomplete responses, data on 3874 children (60.6%) were analyzed. The prevalence of current asthma symptoms and ever asthma symptoms were 12.8% and 30.9%, respectively. As compared with electric heaters, current asthma symptoms was associated with use of flued heaters without ventilation (OR = 1.62; 95% CI, 1.03–2.64) and unflued heaters with ventilation (OR = 1.77; 95% CI, 1.09–2.95) or without ventilation (OR = 2.23; 95% CI, 1.31–3.85). Regardless of dampness, unflued heaters were significantly associated with current asthma symptoms in the presence and absence of ventilation.
Conclusions: Use of unflued heaters was associated with current asthma symptoms, regardless of dampness. In particular, the prevalence of current asthma symptoms was higher in the absence of ventilation than in the presence of ventilation. Ever asthma symptoms was only associated with use of unflued heaters without ventilation. Consequently, use of fuel heaters, especially those that have no flue or ventilation, deserves attention, as their use might be associated with childhood asthma symptoms.