Formaldehyde exposure and asthma in children: A systematic review

Academic Article


  • OBJECTIVE: Despite multiple published studies regarding the association between formaldehyde exposure and childhood asthma, a consistent association has not been identified. Here we report the results of a systematic review of published literature in order to provide a more comprehensive picture of this relationship. DATA SOURCES: After a comprehensive literature search, we identified seven peer-reviewed studies providing quantitative results regarding the association between formaldehyde exposure and asthma in children. Studies were heterogeneous with respect to the definition of asthma (e.g., self-report, physician diagnosis). Most of the studies were cross-sectional. DATA EXTRACTION: For each study, an odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) for asthma were either abstracted from published results or calculated based on the data provided. Characteristics regarding the study design and population were also abstracted. DATA SYNTHESIS: We used fixed- and random-effects models to calculate pooled ORs and 95% CIs; measures of heterogeneity were also calculated. A fixed-effects model produced an OR of 1.03 (95% CI, 1.02-1.04), and random effects model produced an OR of 1.17 (95% CI, 1.01-1.36), both reflecting an increase of 10 μ g/m3 of formaldehyde. Both the Q and I2 statistics indicated a moderate amount of heterogeneity. CONCLUSION: Results indicate a significant positive association between formaldehyde exposure and childhood asthma. Given the largely cross-sectional nature of the studies underlying this metaanalysis, further well-designed prospective epidemiologic studies are needed.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • McGwin G; Lienert J; Kennedy JI
  • Start Page

  • 313
  • End Page

  • 317
  • Volume

  • 118
  • Issue

  • 3