Asthma is one of the most common childhood health conditions. It usually starts to develop during the first year of life, so it is quite common in infants. Over the last decade, the incidence of this condition has more than doubled, which may be due to multiple risk factors that can trigger respiratory conditions in babies and children.
Asthma manifests through the inflammation of the pulmonary airway. The symptoms in infants are the same as for adults. They include: dry cough, wheezing sound, difficulty breathing, thoracic congestion and recurrent bronchitis or pneumonia.
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Risk factors and possible causes for asthma in infants
Recent medical research on the subject of asthma in infants shows some interesting connections between the condition and other factors.
- Allergies are related to respiratory problems. These can be caused by genetic predispositions, such as inherited sensitivities to dust, pollen and so on. Allergies can be seasonal or they can manifest themselves at any time. They trigger an exacerbated immune response that can cause blockage of the airway through inflammation.
- Environmental factors. The rapid rise of pollution in major cities has definitely contributed to an increase respiratory attacks in infants. Also, being exposed to cigarette smoke can lead to the same problem. Pollutants lead to respiratory problems due to inflammation and children are the most affected.
- Exposure to antibiotics. A recent study by the Biomedical Research Center revealed that early exposure to antibiotics can trigger severe allergic asthma. This is due to a modification of the normal gut flora in infants. Many hospitals worldwide use antibiotics to prevent or treat certain health conditions in infants. The downside is that babies have sensitive gut floras and can present more side effects than adults. How gut flora affects the immune response is a complex issue that is still being studied.
- C-section delivered babies. Another recent study published this year by the Canadian Medical Association showed that babies delivered via C-section are more likely to develop asthma. This is also related to an abnormal gut flora, that seems to be influenced by the mode of delivery. Babies that have a vaginal delivery are exposed to the mother’s germs, which influences their gut flora in a positive way.
- Low birth weight and smoking. The European Respiratory Society also identifies low birth weight and smoking in mothers to an increased risk of respiratory issues and asthma in infants. Smoking can lead to low birth weight and expose the baby to toxic substances. These can all contribute to the development of respiratory illnesses in infants and children.
Asthma is a serious condition, and asthma in infants and children can especially be concerning. Besides seeking medical treatment, certain measures can minimize the attacks over time, but it requires strengthening the immune system by avoiding toxins and medication abuse.
Before administering certain antibiotics to infants and children, it is worth discussing allergy testing with the doctor. Some common antibiotics can lead to severe allergic reactions that can have long term effects. Also, being careful about the baby’s diet during the first years of life is important, especially for infants with a family history of allergies or respiratory problems.
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