Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory condition that affects many children. The symptoms of coughing, wheezing, breathlessness and a tight chest can be very distressing and so parents often wonder whether their child is likely to outgrow asthma.
Will my child outgrow asthma?
Asthma is a complex condition that can be due to a variety of underlying factors and symptoms may have various triggers. Because of this it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether or not a child will outgrow asthma, although evidence suggests that it does often lessen in severity.
Factors to consider include:
- A family history of asthma and/or atopic (allergic) disease
- Other allergic disease
- Other lung disease or deficits
- Infections in early life
- Severity of asthma and treatment response
What are the risk factors associated with childhood asthma?
Being born by caesarean delivery and/or bottle-fed
Children who are born by caesarean section and not through the birth canal do not receive all of the mother’s healthy microbes to prime the immune system. This has been shown to put a child at an increased risk of developing asthma. The same goes for breastfeeding which provides the baby with important microbial species in breast milk.
Being ‘too clean’ (The Hygiene Hypothesis)
It is well-evidenced that being ‘too clean’ and not having enough exposure to infection or bacteria during the early stages of life. This is a critical time for the development of the immune system, putting a child at greater risk of developing allergic disease such as asthma.
Children often develop infections in their early years and take courses of antibiotics which are well-known for their ability to wipe out healthy gut bacteria. The health of the microbiome is extremely important during early infancy, as a lack of diversity or imbalance of gut bacteria has been associated with more likelihood of allergy later on.
Healthy gut bacteria thrive on a wide variety of brightly coloured plant foods and so a diet lacking in these and other key nutrients may also influence the risk of developing asthma.
Stress or trauma experienced during childhood can increase the severity of asthma and the associated symptoms. Read our article ‘Can stress trigger asthma?’ to find out more.
It can often be difficult to encourage children to comply with therapy. Maintaining a good level of compliance for effective therapy is extremely important in managing the condition and preventing frequent or serious flares which can increase the risk of asthma continuing into adulthood.
4 Ways to help manage your child’s asthma symptoms and reduce the risk of it continuing into adulthood
1. Encourage compliance
well-managed, less severe asthma tends to have a better prognosis long-term. Get support from an Asthma Nurse and have an ‘asthma action plan’ for you and your child to keep to hand. Make sure that the school is made aware of your child’s condition and how to manage it.
2. A healthy, well-balanced anti-inflammatory diet with key nutrients
Specific nutrients can help support asthma. Find out more about what sort of foods to avoid and include in our article ‘What’s The Best Diet For Asthma ?’.
These help to support a healthy microbiome along with the right dietary measures to keep the gut immune system healthy and dampen any inflammation. If your child receives a course of antibiotics then ensure to counterbalance this with probiotics. Specific probiotic strains which can be helpful in alleviating allergic disease are lactobacillus rhamonosus GG.
4. Manage stress
Certain life stages such as starting a new school or exams, or childhood trauma, can cause stress for your child and worsen symptoms of asthma. Find ways of coping with stress such as deep breathing techniques, emotional freedom tapping or walking outdoors in nature.
Alwarith, J., et al. (2020). The role of nutrition in asthma prevention and treatment. Nutrition reviews, 78(11), 928–938. https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuaa005
Bisgaard, H., & Bønnelykke, K. (2010). Long-term studies of the natural history of asthma in childhood. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 126(2), 187–199. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2010.07.011
Cabana, M. D., et al. (2017). Early Probiotic Supplementation for Eczema and Asthma Prevention: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Pediatrics, 140(3), e20163000. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-3000
Fuchs, O.,et alE. (2017). Asthma transition from childhood into adulthood. The Lancet. Respiratory medicine, 5(3), 224–234. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(16)30187-4
Wang, A. L., et al. (2019). Remission of persistent childhood asthma: Early predictors of adult outcomes. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 143(5), 1752–1759.e6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2018.09.038