Green Shoots Blog
Critical Q&A with Cali Bamboo and Rady Doctors
A few weeks ago we announced the launch of our ongoing partnership with Rady Children’s Hospital, which includes a concerted, mutual effort to increase awareness of children’s respiratory illness. We sat down with a few of the leading respiratory research doctors at Rady to kick off the “Breathe Easy” blog series by clarifying a few key points on respiratory illness.
Q: Who can be affected by respiratory illness?
A: Anyone can be affected, but children are especially susceptible. Respiratory illness is the leading cause of death in children under five worldwide, and at least one in ten children suffers from asthma. Premature infants can develop chronic lung disease, and some children develop chronic respiratory illness following an infection or an injury to the lungs. An early viral infection in an infant or susceptible child can cause severe respiratory disease that requires intensive care, and can sometimes leave the child with long-term respiratory disability. Children with nerve and muscle problems may have breathing difficulties, and may not be able to cough — which leaves them unable to protect their lungs. Children with weak immune systems can wind up with devastating respiratory illnesses from what might otherwise have been a mild infection.
Q: What causes respiratory illness?
A: Respiratory illness can sometimes be traced back to cigarette smoke, cooking smoke, viral infections, and environmental pollution. Anyone can notice the impact of these pollutants, but children, whose lungs are still growing, are especially vulnerable to their effects. In some cases, smaller amounts of toxins have potentially greater impact due to a child’s size. For example, if an adult and baby are exposed to the same concentration, the baby has less surface area than the adult, so has respectively larger exposure. In the era of genomics (now that we have the ability to quickly assess the function of most of the body’s genes) we are learning about all kinds of rare disorders — and some more common genetic variants — that can cause lung disease or make lungs susceptible to injury.
Q: Why focus on children’s respiratory illness?
A: Respiratory problems are the most common reasons for hospitalization of children in the U.S. As you grow, your lungs continue to develop — all the way up until early adulthood. Children have the most potential for long-term harm, but also for healing, due to their developing lungs. Premature children have especially poorly-developed lungs, and often have slower lung growth after birth. In addition, children’s immune systems are still developing — and it is now known that early exposure to smoke or certain viral infections can cause lifelong abnormalities in immune function in airways, predisposing them to asthma. Some of these changes can even be passed genetically to future generations.
Q: What are the symptoms of respiratory illness?
A: Some common respiratory symptoms are coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath/difficulty breathing. These are the most common respiratory symptoms that indicate a problem. The most common breathing problems in children are asthma, sleep apnea, and respiratory infections such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia.
Q: How does the environment impact respiratory health?
A: Geography, climate, and substances in the environment can affect respiratory health in many ways. Urban environments can have concentrated air pollutants, but rural areas can sometimes have agricultural or industrial toxins. Different areas have different types and concentrations of pollens. A lot depends on topography and weather (literally, which way the wind is blowing!). Many of us can’t choose where we live, but we can learn about how indoor and outdoor environments affect us and our children, and take precautions and make policies to protect the vulnerable lungs still “under construction.
Cali Bamboo is known for an intensive focus on the health and safety of the children and their families who live life out on and around our floors. Learn more about our own Breathe Easy™ focus and the low VOC content of our floors here. You can also donate to critical respiratory research by clicking the button below to visit our Rady fundraising page!
Stay tuned for future conversations with Rady Doctors on the types of precautions you can take to protect your lungs and the developing lungs of your children.