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Asthma is most likely caused by a combination of several factors. Experts suggest that in people who are susceptible (genetically predisposed), factors such as allergens (substances that commonly induce an allergic reaction), infections, dietary patterns, exercise, cigarette smoke, and stress can bring on an asthma attack.
The following factors may increase the risk of developing asthma:
- Allergies -- children with asthma often have allergies as well
- Family history of asthma or allergies
- Cigarette smoke, including second hand smoke from, for example, parents or a spouse
- Food allergies - a true food allergy, particularly one that induces asthma, is difficult to identify and, therefore, it is not clear exactly how frequently (or infrequently) this contributes to asthma; it seems to be more common in children than in adults and the responsible foods include eggs, milk, wheat, soy, peanuts, fish, shellfish, and sulfite food perservatives.
- Living in a Western or industrialized country - some experts believe that dietary habits (more processed foods, less fruits and vegetables), indoor living (resulting in overexposure to indoor allergens), energy- efficient homes (trapping allergenic dust mites inside), immunizations, and possibly, declining rates of breastfeeding contribute to the rising rates of asthma
- Urban living
- Gender -- among younger children, asthma develops twice as frequently in boys as in girls, but after puberty it may be more common in girls
- Obesity - controversial; a recent study suggests that asthma is over-diagnosed among obese people
Last Updated on Friday, 30 January 2009 05:11