Asthma in Children
Asthma in Children
What Increases Your Risk
Many things can increase
a child's risk for
asthma. Some of these are not within your control;
others you can control.
Personal and family history
- Gender. Among children, boys have asthma more
often than girls.
- Race. Asthma is more common in black children
than in white children.4
- Bronchial tubes that overreact. Children who inherit a tendency of the
bronchial tubes (which carry air to the lungs) to overreact often develop
- A history of allergies. Children who have an allergy
are more likely than other children to develop asthma. Most children with
atopic dermatitis, or both. Studies show that 40 to 50 out of 100 children who have atopic dermatitis develop asthma. Having atopic dermatitis
as a child may also increase the risk of a person having more severe and
persistent asthma as an adult.5
- A family history of allergies and asthma. Children who have an allergy and asthma usually have a
family history of allergies or asthma.
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and wheezing at a young age. Early infection with
respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) that causes a lower
respiratory infection increases a child's risk for wheezing.6
Young children who wheeze have a greater risk for asthma than
children who do not wheeze.
Other things that increase your child's risk
- Cigarette smoking. Children who smoke are more
likely to develop asthma when they become teenagers. A large study found that
children who smoked at least 300 cigarettes in a year were almost 4 times more
likely to get asthma.7
- Cigarette smoking during pregnancy. Women who
smoke during pregnancy increase the risk of wheezing in
their babies. Babies whose mothers smoked during pregnancy also have worse lung
function than babies whose mothers did not smoke.8
- Secondhand cigarette smoke. Children
who are around secondhand cigarette smoke are at increased risk for
developing asthma.8 If children already have the
disease, secondhand smoke increases the severity of their
- Obesity. Studies have found a link between
obesity in children and a higher-than-average asthma prevalence. But the reason
for the link is unclear.4 Also, symptoms caused by obesity are sometimes thought to be
- Dust mites. Being around
dust mites may increase your child's risk for
- Cockroaches. In one study, children who had a
high level of cockroach droppings in their home were 4 times more likely to
have a new diagnosis of asthma than children whose homes have a low
also not sure about the effect that pets in the home have on getting asthma.
Some research shows that having cats or dogs in the home increases an adult's
risk of getting asthma.9 But other research has seemed
to show that being around pets early in life might protect a child against
If your child already has asthma and
allergies to pets, having a pet in the home may make his or her asthma
Risks for very bad asthma attacks
Your child may be at increased risk for severe asthma
attacks if he or she:
- Is an infant with asthma symptoms.
- Has a history of severe symptoms,
asthma attacks that get worse quickly and frequent
- Has had to go to the hospital or emergency room
in the past because of an asthma attack.
- Has difficulty taking
medicines or often has to use short-acting beta2-agonists.
frequent changes in
peak expiratory flow.
- Has symptoms that
last for a long time.
- Does not use oral corticosteroids quickly
enough during an attack.
- Does not have good support from families
Triggers also may make asthma worse and may lead to
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
August 21, 2012
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