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Asthma study needs breath of fresh air

Barbados has been chosen as the focus of a small asthma study by the John Hopkins University and the University of the West Indies.

Head of the research study, Selvi Jeyaseelan told Barbados TODAY that the response since they invited local asthma sufferers to be a part of the study had been slow.

“There has been some evidence that the lower the Vitamin D levels, the worst the asthma symptoms, but the studies have mostly been in northern hemispheres where there really isn’t a lot of sun. We are trying to see if there is evidence to support the beliefs.

“We have started here with a small study and if we find the link we are looking for between Vitamin D and asthma, then we would do a bigger study,” said Jeyaseelan.

The research head said she had connections with John Hopkins, which when they were looking for a location with lots of sunshine and hence Vitamin D, looked to Barbados for the study.

She said the respondents have been a bit slow, with them needing about 15 more persons to make it an even 30 for the study.

The information circulated about the study invited asthma sufferers over the age of 18 to contact Jeyaseelan for a two-hour screening and assessment before the study begins.

The research leader said the respondents would be asked to visit the Respiratory Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital where they would undergo a test of their lung function, followed by a blood test which would be sent to the US to check for Vitamin D levels. They would then be presented with a diary to document their movement, monitor their lung function per week, as well as keep track of their sun exposure and diet.

“We have associates that will then call them up at set times and they would take the information over the telephone,” she said.

The biggest challenge now, she said, was getting enough participants to complete this initial study to determine if the issue of Vitamin D and asthma warranted a larger focus. (LB)

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