Infections may lead to asthma

By • Published: February 4th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

No one can resist a baby. Those oh-so-cute little hands. Those itty-bitty feet. But unfortunately, being around oodles of people means there are more chances baby will contract a respiratory virus, the results of which are anything but oh-so-cute or itty-bitty.

Respiratory infections can lead to pneumonia and bronchitis. And according to a new study, they may also be a cause of childhood asthma.

Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis have found that severe respiratory infections could start a domino effect in babies that ultimately leads to asthma.

More than twenty million Americans have asthma. During a typical attack, airways tighten and fill with mucus, making it difficult to breathe. About ten percent of children have the disease.

While studying mice, the researchers noticed some of the rodents exhibited symptoms of asthma after a respiratory infection. The mice were also producing antibodies and other signs of an immune reaction, which isn’t how the body typically responds to an infection.

The researchers say this immune reaction could affect the lungs and set the body up for allergies and asthma down the road.

What’s even more interesting? The researchers found a way to stop this reaction in mice. Studying mice predisposed to developing asthma, researchers were able to interfere with an immune response in the lungs that triggered asthma-inducing inflammation during an infection.

Experts say the finding could lead to a way to prevent asthma from developing.

And that would be a breath of fresh air.