The Role of Lung Function in Determining Which Children Develop Asthma

Cindy T. McEvoy, Peter N. Le Souef, Fernando D. Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Longitudinal studies have demonstrated that altered indices of airway function, assessed shortly after birth, are a risk factor for the subsequent development of wheezing illnesses and asthma, and that these indices predict airway size and airway wall thickness in adult life. Pre- and postnatal factors that directly alter early airway function, such as extreme prematurity and cigarette smoke, may continue to affect airway function and, hence, the risks for wheeze and asthma. Early airway function and an associated asthma risk may also be indirectly influenced by immune system responses, respiratory viruses, the airway microbiome, genetics, and epigenetics, especially if they affect airway epithelial dysfunction. Few if any interventions, apart from smoking avoidance, have been proven to alter the risks of developing asthma, but vitamin C supplementation to pregnant smokers may help decrease the effects of in utero smoke on offspring lung function. We conclude that airway size and the factors influencing this play an important role in determining the risk for asthma across the lifetime. Progress in asthma prevention is long overdue and this may benefit from carefully designed interventions in well-phenotyped longitudinal birth cohorts with early airway function assessments monitored through to adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-683
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


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