Experts say there isn’t a hard and fast way to prevent asthma from starting in children, so parents should not go on a guilt trip if their children develop the condition. However, there are ways to reduce your child’s risk factors, especially during pregnancy and infancy.
- Quit smoking! If you know you need to kick the habit but just can’t seem to do it, get help at smokefree.gov. Also, minimize your child’s exposure to environments where other people smoke, even if they don’t light up while you’re there. Even smokers’ clothes and hair carry irritants that could be dangerous to your baby. This is a tough situation if Grandma is a pack-a-day gal, but maybe this can be her incentive to quit.
- Follow your OB’s advice to prevent preterm labor and avoid cigarettes, alcohol and drugs (duh!) during pregnancy. Low birth weight is not only a risk factor for asthma but other health problems.
- Don’t spend every second cleaning, but do try to minimize asthma triggers, like mold, roaches, pet dander and dust, in your home. Avoid exposing your baby to irritants like perfume, hairspray, paint or fumes from household cleaners. This likely will not prevent a child from developing asthma, but may reduce the frequency and severity of attacks if it develops -- and could even stave off the condition for a few years.
Watch your child’s weight. Multiple studies have shown a link between obesity and asthma at all ages, but research is also showing that accelerated weight gain in the first few years of life significantly increases a child’s chance of asthma. It’s not just that extra weight causes kids to huff and puff when they run; overweight children also have more allergies. The theory is that an excess of fat kicks off an inflammatory process at the cellular level that puts kids at risk for a host of diseases, including asthma, diabetes and hypertension.
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