MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A West Virginia University research study that made headlines in 2010 is the cover story in the latest issue (Feb. 15) of the “American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.”

The cover – a montage of three maps of West Virginia showing the distribution of rural areas in the state – is taken from data collected as a part of a landmark WVU study on asthma and obesity in nearly 18,000 children.

“West Virginia is now officially ‘on the map’ of leading respiratory research,” said Giovanni Piedimonte, M.D., chairman of WVU Department of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief at WVU Children’s Hospital, who led the study. The journal, he said, is the top-ranked academic publication in respiratory science.

Children of any weight who have an imbalanced metabolism due to poor diet or exercise may be at increased risk of asthma, according to new research at WVU. The findings challenge the widespread assumption that obesity itself is a risk factor for asthma.

When the journal released the paper online in September 2010, the surprising results were featured on news and health websites around the world.

“Our research showed that early abnormalities in lipid and/or glucose metabolism may be associated to the development of asthma in childhood,” said Dr. Piedimonte. “Our findings also imply a strong and direct influence of metabolic pathways on the immune mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of asthma in children.”

“The key takeaway message for parents is this: there’s one more good reason to make sure your children eat healthy and exercise,” WVU pediatric researcher Lesley Cottrell, Ph.D., said. “Even healthy-looking children can be at higher risk for asthma if they are sedentary and have a poor diet.”

The article, “Metabolic Abnormalities in Children with Asthma,” was authored by Drs. Cottrell and Piedimonte, along with William Neal, M.D., Christa Ice, Ph.D., Miriam Perez, M.D., all of the WVU Department of Pediatrics and Pediatric Research Institute.

For more information: Angela Jones, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
bc: 02-23-11