One hundred and ninety three children with asthma and 318 controls aged 1-4 years were evaluated for atopic heredity and exposure to possible indoor risk factors for asthma-for example exposure to furred pets, tobacco smoke, and home dampness. A subgroup of cases were classified as cat and/or dog allergic on the basis of skin prick tests. Heredity for asthma was a significant risk factor (odds ratio (OR) 3.0, confidence interval (CI) 2.1 to 4.6). Environmental tobacco smoke was associated with an excess risk for asthma (OR 1.7, CI 1.1 to 2.3) and signs of home dampness tended to increase this risk (OR 1.3, CI 0.9 to 2.0). High dose exposure to cat and/or dog resulted in an increased risk only in asthma cases sensitised to cat and/or dog (OR 2.7, CI 1.0 to 7.3). A combination of high dose exposure to cat and/or dog, environmental tobacco smoke and damp housing was associated with an OR of 8.0 (CI 1.9 to 34.1). Raised indoor humidity has been shown to reflect low air exchange, which may also lead to increased doses of inhaled aeroallergens and tobacco smoke, and contribute to the interaction between the three risk factors.
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