Approximately 34.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma by a health professional during their lifetime.
13 million school days are missed each year due to asthma.
Nine million U.S. children under 18 have been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their lifetime.
It is estimated that the number of people with asthma will grow by more than 100 million by 2025.
Sobering statistics, aren't they? Made even more sobering by new research that has found a link between c-section delivery and the development of asthma in young children.
According to research published recently in the American Journal of Epidemiology
, children born via cesarean section (aka C-section) have an increased risk of asthma at age three.
Asthma is to some degree a hereditary disease. Yet health experts are just beginning to understand that environmental factors also play a role in its development. Now it seems that one such factor is the pathway through which a baby enters the world.
Why the link? One theory is that children born via C-section may miss exposure to important immune challenges compared to children born via the birth canal. Just what these "immune challenges" are remains unclear.
For this study of 37,000 children, researchers collected data on the method of delivery as well as demographic and lifestyle information from the children's mothers. Even after accounting for asthma risk factors, such as smoking and maternal body mass index (BMI) and protective factors for asthma, such as the duration of breast-feeding, researchers found that children born via C-section were more likely to have asthma during their first three years than those who were born vaginally.