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DIET, rather than pollution, could be the chief cause of the increase in asthma among children over the past 20 years, claim researchers from the University Medical School and Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen. Between 1961 and 1985 the consumption of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meat fell significantly, they say. These foods are valuable sources of vitamins and minerals essential for the lungs' defence mechanisms, the researchers argue in Thorax, and low intake raises susceptibility to pollutants and allergens.