Children who watch television for more than two hours a day have twice the risk of developing asthma, according to new research published by British researchers.
Asthma affects more than 300 million people worldwide and is the most common children's chronic illness. Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and chest tightness.
A study published in the journal Thorax may help link asthma, estimated to account for one in 250 deaths globally each year, to obesity and lack of exercise, experts said.
"There has been a recent suggestion that breathing patterns associated with sedentary behavior could lead to developmental changes in the lungs and wheezing illnesses in children," Andrea Sherriff of the University of Glasgow and colleagues wrote.
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Sherriff and colleagues studied more than 3,000 children from birth until nearly the age of 12.
The parents were questioned annually on wheezing symptoms among their children and whether a doctor had diagnosed asthma as they grew up. The researchers also analyzed how much television the children watched.
They did not consider video games or personal computers, which were not as common in the mid 1990s when the children were growing up, the researchers added.