Background. A study of morbidity of children aged 0 to 3 years was organized in two districts in the Czech
Republic. Comparisons were drawn between children living in district Teplice, known for its high air pollution, and
those living in Prachatice, the district with consistently lower particulate and SO 2 exposures.
Methods and Results. 452 children of the follow up study were born between May 1994 and December 1996.
Childhood morbidity during the first three years of life was obtained from their pediatric records. Diagnoses were
coded using the International Classification of Diseases – the 10th edition, and categorized into broad groups.
Children born in Teplice experienced a significantly higher rate of otitis media (and otalgia), gastrointestinal
infections, upper respiratory infections, and pneumonia, but they did not differ in the risk of bronchitis or that of
viral infections such as varicella. These findings remained valid after the multiple linear regression models were
calculated and adjusted for education, maternal age, maternal smoking, and other smokers in the household,
breastfeeding, and attendance at the day care.
Conclusions. Air pollution may alter early childhood susceptibility to infection, but other differences between
the districts have to be considered: systematic diagnostic differences for several health outcomes between pediatri-
cians in Teplice and Prachatice, differences in health-care seeking approach of parents, and some hitherto unidentified
air pollution, morbidity, infant health, child health, otitis media, bronchitis, pneumonia, upper