Will our baby develop asthma, too?

Published: March 19, 2012

Q. My husband has controlled moderate-to-severe asthma. We now have a four-month-old, and I’m concerned that he may develop asthma, too. Should we take any special precautions with the baby during spring allergy season?

Dr. Watson: There are many factors that contribute to the development of asthma in children. Having a mother or father with asthma is only one of the risk factors.

There are studies looking at an index called the Modified Asthma Predictive Index. In children with three or more wheezing episodes, one of which is documented by a physician, major risk factors include family history, personal history of allergy and allergies to inhalant allergens.

You also ask whether taking precautions will prevent asthma. There isn’t enough evidence to support any recommendations. For example, exposure to pets in children has been protective in some studies, yet contributed to the onset of asthma in other studies. For children who developed asthma or hay fever, month of birth seemed a risk factor.

The bottom line is that these are things you really cannot control. If you have pets, there is not enough evidence to say to keep or get rid of them. The only option would be if your child develops symptoms around the pets, then you should give them away.

As far as the springtime, there are no special precautions to protect your child. Watch instead for early symptoms and, should you have concerns, speak to your doctor. As a father of an 18-year-old and a 22-year-old (and an empty-nester), the most important piece of advice I can give you is to relax and enjoy your child.

We welcome your question to Allergic Living’s Ask the Allergist. Thank you for understanding that the specialists aren’t able to answer every question received.

Dr. Wade Watson is a pediatric allergist and Professor of Pediatrics at Dalhousie University. He is also the head of the Division of Allergy at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.

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