Childhood Adversities and the Development of Asthma in Adulthood

childhood asthma

Recently the BMJ Open online journal published the first large-scale prospective, population-based study, involving 24 057 participants, followed for a 7-year period, documenting an association between childhood adversities and register-verified asthma diagnosis in adulthood.

Previous research has shown that anxiety disorders and major depression are linked to asthma development, and two previous longitudinal studies reported bidirectional associations between panic disorder/attacks and asthma.

In the BMJ Open study Jyrki Korkeila and colleagues from the University of Turku and University of Helsinki, Finland report that during the 7 years follow-up about 3% of the individuals developed asthma, and the participants reporting 3 or more childhood adversities had almost doubled risk of developing asthma when compared to those without childhood adversities.

According to the authors psycho-neuro-immunological pathways may drive the link between adversity and asthma including elevated levels of inflammatory biomarkers and stress-immune or stress-inflammation interactions and adversary effects. The authors also suggest that socioeconomic status may be a precursor to this, often resulting in poor health related behavior, and running a higher risk of mental health disorders.

This work highlights the importance of early risk factors in the identification and treatment of risk groups for poor health outcomes, and may warrant further studies along these lines.

Source: BMJ Open, 2012 Oct 14;2(5). pii: e001625. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001625. Print 2012.

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