Sat, May 06, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Doctor says asthmatic kids face risk from ice cream


Ice cream or other ice products can affect pulmonary functions, so parents are advised not to allow asthmatic children to consume them, even in the summer, doctors said.

Wang Li-chieh (王麗潔), an allergy specialist at National Taiwan University Hospital, earlier this week cited the case of an eight-year-old girl with chronic asthma.

One day, her parents decided to treat her to a feast of frozen treats. The next day, she was so severely stricken with asthma that she had to be rushed to the hospital's emergency ward, Wang said.

One month later, the girl consumed some shaved ice, only to be hospitalized again within two days, after beginning to hyperventilate, Wang reported.

The hospital's pediatric department recently completed a study on the effects on children of drinking iced water under normal circumstances, and doing that or eating ice cream after exercise. The study was conducted with the participation of 37 asthmatics and 30 healthy children.

Researchers found that drinking ice water or eating ice cream after exercise was most harmful to children with asthma, probably because the sudden intake of icy water constricted their tracheas and bronchial tubes as their body temperatures rose with labored breathing, bringing their lung's functions to half the level of normal children.

Ice water also affects the pulmonary functions of asthmatic children if cold water is taken during a period of rest, but the effects are not as severe as when it is taken after exercise.

Eating ice cream under normal circumstances -- not after exercise -- causes the least adverse effects on asthmatic children.

As summer approaches, Wang said it might not be realistic for parents to simply ban kids from consuming iced products.

Instead, she added, it's better to educate young people how to properly enjoy ice products -- let the icy water "warm up" a little before slowly drinking it, or take in only a small bit of ice cream at a time.

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