Look for Signs of Asthma Early On

By Christina Elston

More than half of the children who have asthma begin to develop symptoms before age 5, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). Parents who spot the signs early on and contact their doctor can help bring their child's asthma under control before it can permanently damage the airways.

Look for:

  • allergies
  • shortness of breath
  • signs of fatigue

Listen for:

  • frequent coughing or throat clearing
  • wheezing or whistling
  • complaints that your child's chest "hurts" or "feels funny"
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Pregnancy & Childhood Allergies

Meanwhile, a recent study suggests that limiting a pregnant woman's exposure to allergens could help reduce her baby's risk of developing asthma.

In the study, published in the November issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, researchers tested 98 mothers and their newborns and found that almost half of mothers who had high levels of dust mite exposure had babies with detectable levels of the allergen in their umbilical cord blood.

"Of all the allergens that a child can be exposed to, the number-one risk for developing asthma is linked to dust mite exposure," says the study's author Abdul Bahrainwala.

To minimize exposure to dust mites, Bahrainwala recommends keeping humidity levels in the home below 45 percent, removing carpeting if possible, encasing mattresses and pillows with allergen-resistant covers, and using a HEPA filter on vacuums.

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Christina Elston is the contributing health editor for United Parenting Publications.