For most medical conditions, risk factors are always involved, and asthma proves to be no exception. Asthma, which is defined as an inflammation of the airways, afflicts millions in the United States; unfortunately, almost 6 million of these are children. The risk factors for asthma in children have affected ten to twelve percent of children in this country, with most of them having their first asthma symptoms by the age of 5. There is no exact known reason for asthma and no cure for it, either. However, discovering the risk factors for asthma in children will help in controlling it by understanding how to manage the asthma symptoms.
One of the major risk factors for asthma is having a family history of asthma. A child who has one or two parents with asthma is three to six times more vulnerable to developing asthma than a child whose parents do not have it (according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Any family history of allergies, other lung diseases, and a skin condition known as eczema factor in as risks for asthma in children. In fact, 40 to 50 percent of children with eczema do become asthmatic. Another risk factor involves the gender of the child. More boys rather than girls develop asthma. However, this changes as the children grow older and asthma strikes both fairly equally.
Another risk factor for the development of asthma in a child has to do with whether or not the mother breastfed the child. Breastfeeding imparts to newborn infants certain antibodies which fight infection, protecting the child from diseases. Less women breastfeed their children in modern times; thus, more children are vulnerable to asthma. Moreover, children, who are born prematurely, usually around 36 weeks, may also develop asthma. Any child with a low birth weight has a higher risk for asthma and other lung problems. Winter babies may have a greater risk for asthmatic allergies to cockroaches than other children born in other seasons of the year. The complications of pregnancy, such as insufficient placenta and pre-term contractions, appear to cause an increased risk of asthma for children, as well. Procedures of delivery can also raise the risks of asthma for the child, such as a Cesarean section and the use of forceps in the birth.
Another risk factor that predisposes children to asthma may result from high stress due to having parents who are mentally ill, alcoholic, or addicted to drugs. An unnecessarily high risk for asthma in infants results from their mothers who smoked cigarettes while pregnant with them. This bad health practice appears to lower the lung function in these infants as compared to infants whose mothers abstained from smoking.
Additional risk factors involve the environment of children. For example, constant exposure to secondhand smoke increases the chances for children to become asthmatic. Also, pollution, dust, any irritant such as overwhelming odors, and other such environmental sources will often aggravate the allergies of a child and eventually result in asthma for some children. Furthermore, urban life has been linked to higher risks for asthma in children. The ethnicity of children may also be associated with a high risk factor of asthma. Hispanic children and African-American children have higher rates of asthma than Caucasian children. However, this tendency towards asthma may be influenced more by living in an urban area and in poverty with less access to proper health care. Caucasian children in similar situations have also faced higher risks of developing asthma. Although, the risk factors for asthma may still continue and no cure be discovered, the attempts at controlling the asthma must continue. For with proper treatment, medical care and support, and parental effort, the asthma can be controlled and children with asthma can live better lives.