Children who consume vitamin C-rich fruit are less likely to experience wheezing -- a whistling-type of breathing associated with asthma, study findings suggest.
In the study, youngsters who ate kiwi or citrus fruits 5 to 7 times a week were about 30% less likely than other children who ate fruit less than once a week to suffer from wheezing, chronic coughing or nighttime coughing, Italian researchers report in the April issue of Thorax.
Dr. Francesco Forastiere, of the Regional Health Authority in Rome, Italy, and colleagues asked the parents of 18,737 children, aged 6 to 7 years, to complete a questionnaire giving details of citrus and kiwi fruit intake, as well as respiratory symptoms.
“In most cases, the protective effect was evident even among children whose intake of fruit was only 1 to 2 times per week,” the authors report.
Fruit intake appeared to benefit children who already had asthma. Asthmatics who ate fruit once a week had a 1-year occurrence of wheeze of about 30% compared with 47% for asthmatic children who ate fruit less than once a week.
The investigators point out that they cannot conclusively determine exactly what dietary component protected against wheezing and coughing. However, they conclude that “the consumption of fruit rich in vitamin C, even at a low level of intake, may reduce wheezing symptoms in childhood.”
Forastiere told Reuters Health that “although the findings need corroboration from other studies before a causal relationship can be accepted… the evidence of a positive effect of fresh fruit consumption on respiratory health is increasing.”
Meanwhile, he added, “I think that pediatricians should advise parents and children to eat fresh fruit.” There is a lot to be gained “not only for asthma but for many other conditions.”