A common concern of moms and dads - especially when asthma runs in the family - is how they can prevent their children from getting asthma. New evidence suggests there are things you can do - or not do - to at least reduce the risk your child will develop asthma.
I think the surest way to prevent your child from acquiring asthma is to not give your child the asthma gene. Yet there seems to be quite a bit of evidence that even folks with no history of asthma can develop asthma. Good examples of this are premature births (immature lungs) and occupational asthma.
To get a better understanding of why the following may lead to asthma you should read up on the hygiene hypothesis that surmises asthma may be caused by lack of exposure to bacteria, and the microflora hypothesis that surmises asthma is caused by an imbalance of microbes in the intestines.
Likewise, click on the links provided in this post for further reading.
So you want to prevent your child from developing asthma. The following are some things believed to prevent one from developing asthma:
- Breastfeeding: The child will be exposed to microbes in the mother's milk that the child's immune system needs to develop properly. I wrote more here. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes here that infants where eczema and asthma runs in the family who were breastfed at least three months were 42 percent less likely to develop asthma than infants not breastfed for three months. The American Accademy of Allergies Asthma and Immunology (AAAAorg) reports that breast milk also strengthens the immune system. Exposure to cow milk and soy proteins may cause an allergic response that may lead to asthma.
- Vaginal birth: The child will be exposed to bacteria for the immune system to develop properly. In fact, studies show c-sections increase the asthma risk by 80 percent as I wrote here.
- Attendance at daycare: The immune system will be exposed to plenty of bacteria to develop properly and remain strong throughout childhood.
- Large family: The immune system will be exposed to plenty of bacteria to develop properly as proven by this study reported by The American Accademy of Pediatrics. Likewise, The New England Journal of Medicine reports families with more than two children has declined from 36 percent in 1970 to 21 percent in 1998. As family sizes get smaller, asthma rates have risen.
- Large intake of fruits and vegetables: Provides your body with vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system strong.
- Omega 3 fatty acid found in fish: Several studies as you can read here and here show that populations with adequete levels of fish oil in the diet have lower asthma rates. The theory is that acids found in fish oil prevent the allergic response that causes inflammation of the respiratory tract.
- Cats and dogs: Early exposure has been shown to prevent dog and cat allergies, and allergies can lead to asthma. I wrote about this here.
- Farm life, primarily pig exposure: Studies show asthma rates for kids who live on farms are lower, and the theory is due to bacteria from pigs and other animals the kids are exposed to.
- Community resources: Educational and financial opportunities greatly influence asthma rates because it proveds better exposure to diagnosis, treatment, and medicine. You can read more here.
- Normal respiratory rate: Studies show people who have chronic respiratory rates greater than 20 have a greater risk of developing chronic inflammation of the air passages.
- Vitamin D: Lack of exposure to the sun may cause asthma. Studies show people with higher vitamin D levels have better lung function because it helps the immune system function better.
- Exercise: Overdoing exercise can actually cause asthma due to high respiratory rates, and this may be one reason olympians have high asthma rates (may be referred to as occupational asthma. Yet fat tissue has also been proven to release chemicals that cause inflammation in the air passages that can lead to asthma, and exercise can prevent obesity along with strengthening the heart, lungs, and immune system and mental status.
- A healthy diet: High fat foods may cause inflammation in the lungs. Obesity has been linked to increased asthma rates. I wrote about this here, and you can read more here.
- Treating nasal congestion: Sinusitis and rhinitis (hay fever) may lead to airway inflammation and cause asthma if the nasal congestion is not diagnosed and treated swiftly.
- Treating eczema: Studies show eczema may lead to asthma, yet if diagnosed and treated swiftly the risk may be reduced. I wrote about this here.
The following are things you should avoid exposure to: