Does early life exposure to exogenous sources of reactive oxygen species (ROS) increase the risk of respiratory and allergic diseases in children? A longitudinal cohort study




To, Teresa
Terebessy, Emilie
Zhu, Jingqin
Zhang, Kimball
Lakey, Pascale SJ
Shiraiwa, Manabu
Hatzopoulou, Marianne
Minet, Laura
Weichenthal, Scott
Dell, Sharon

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Environmental Health


Background Excess reactive oxygen species (ROS) can cause oxidative stress damaging cells and tissues, leading to adverse health effects in the respiratory tract. Yet, few human epidemiological studies have quantified the adverse effect of early life exposure to ROS on child health. Thus, this study aimed to examine the association of levels of ROS exposure at birth and the subsequent risk of developing common respiratory and allergic diseases in children. Methods 1,284 Toronto Child Health Evaluation Questionnaire (T-CHEQ) participants were followed from birth (born between 1996 and 2000) until outcome, March 31, 2016 or loss-to-follow-up. Using ROS data from air monitoring campaigns and land use data in Toronto, ROS concentrations generated in the human respiratory tract in response to inhaled pollutants were estimated using a kinetic multi-layer model. These ROS values were assigned to participants’ postal codes at birth. Cox proportional hazards regression models, adjusted for confounders, were then used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) per unit increase in interquartile range (IQR). Results After adjusting for confounders, iron (Fe) and copper (Cu) were not significantly associated with the risk of asthma, allergic rhinitis, nor eczema. However, ROS, a measure of the combined impacts of Fe and Cu in PM2.5, was associated with an increased risk of asthma (HR = 1.11, 95% CI: 1.02–1.21, p < 0.02) per IQR. There were no statistically significant associations of ROS with allergic rhinitis (HR = 0.96, 95% CI: 0.88–1.04, p = 0.35) and eczema (HR = 1.03, 95% CI: 0.98–1.09, p = 0.24). Conclusion These findings showed that ROS exposure in early life significantly increased the childhood risk of asthma, but not allergic rhinitis and eczema.



Reactive oxygen species, Asthma, Allergic rhinitis, Eczema, Air pollution, Early life exposures


To, T., Terebessy, E., Zhu, J., Zhang, K., Lakey, P. S. J., Shiraiwa, M., . . . Stieb, D. (2022). “Does early life exposure to exogenous sources of reactive oxygen species (ROS) increase the risk of respiratory and allergenic diseases in children? A longitudinal cohort study.” Environmental Health, 21(90).