Up to three-fourths of all cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be linked to childhood illnesses like asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, allergic rhinitis, and eczema, and exposure to secondhand smoke, according to a new study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
This study, conducted by researchers in Australia, also suggests these childhood exposures are compounded by factors in adulthood – such as smoking – to cause COPD. A second Australian study, also published in The Lancet, suggests there may be an opportunity in childhood to reduce the risk for respiratory problems later in life.
In both studies, the researchers identified ways lung function changes over time. These changes are associated with certain factors and affect lung disease risk later in life. According to the study authors, a better understanding of these factors could improve lung disease prevention and treatment.