Plot to go soft on car fumes: 'We live in fear by the A34': Two readers write of their families' plight

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From Sandra Price Newbury, Berks

OUR first child, Thomas, was born in 1989 and seemed fine. When he was two years old we moved to Newbury to a house which backs on to a BT yard where vans start up in the mornings, and yards away from the busy A34 with cars crawling through the bottleneck of Newbury. You can see and smell the fumes.

Within three months, Thomas had an asthma attack and was rushed to hospital gasping for air and very frightened. After many more attacks, constant medication seems to have the problem under control.

Our daughter was born last year and after a month was termed a ''happy wheezer' by the doctors. A few weeks ago, just after her first birthday, she had a severe attack and was rushed to hospital.

We are in constant fear of another attack - a day out in London where, in her buggy, she was level with the exhaust fumes, left her breathless, needing a course of steroids. Both children's days are a constant round of nebulisers, volumatics and capsules.

Doctors are reluctant to pin the blame on any one factor, and I accept that my children were probably inclined towards asthma (my brother did have chronic asthma as a child), but I feel they have been pushed over the edge by the fumes.

I have five neighbours with at least one asthmatic child. The night our daughter was in hospital - a hazy, foggy day - seven other children were admitted needing treatment. Asthma used to be rare but now everyone you speak to knows someone with it.

Both our children were breast-fed, have healthy diets, and feather-free bedding. We've never smoked, we wet- wipe their rooms; fluffy toys are kept to a minimum and we read all we can on the subject. Yet we really believe that the problem is out of our hands and we feel helpless.

Surely the answer is for better public transport, more investment in the railways etc. When I consider the medication my children are on, the overall cost to the Government must be astronomical. Surely that's an incentive to do something about it? Although, going by this Government's record they will just make us pay for the medication - but that's another story . . . Although commitments mean we have to stay in Newbury, we are moving further away from BT and the A34 - let's hope it works]

More letters, page 22

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