Early-life influences are significant, according to a new study on lung health

Sociodemographic, environmental, behavioral, and physiological aspects were among the 33 variables examined that potentially affect lung function.

The largest study of its kind, coordinated by the Universities of Essex and Bristol, has revealed new information regarding the significance of early-life influences on lung health.

The findings, which were presented today in the European Respiratory Journal, are expected to pave the way for the creation of respiratory health predicting tools and the reduction of healthcare disparities by focusing early-life interventions on those who are more at risk.

The world-renowned longitudinal research Bristol’s Children of the 90s, also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, or ALSPAC, which has tracked expectant mothers and their children since 1991, provided the data for the study, which analyzed information from 7,545 individuals.

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Early-life influences are significant

From birth until age 24—when lung function is at its highest and is a reliable predictor of respiratory health in later life—researchers examined 33 important parameters.

According to lead researcher Dr Osama Mahmoud, Lecturer in data science and statistics from the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Essex and formerly at Bristol, “compared to previous studies on lung health, our work stands out as being the most comprehensive of its kind, to date,” as it considers the underlying relationships between these 33 factors and provides reliable findings on their importance on adulthood lung health.

The study’s primary findings regarding the elements detrimental to lung health were as follows:

  • Low birth weight, greater levels of fat mass and lower levels of lean mass in primary school students, higher levels of body mass index (BMI) in pregnant women, smoking during pregnancy, and early-onset asthma

“The results clearly show that out of 33 key factors, the ones which individually most influence the lung function of young adults are: their mother’s weight during pregnancy, whether or not their mother smoked during pregnancy, their birthweight, and their body composition at primary school,” said Dr Mahmoud in his conclusion.

“Early-onset asthma is another risk that affects lung function,” the authors write. “We believe that this should highlight the need to pay more attention to these disorders, especially when it comes to primary prevention.”


What variables were used to examine lung function?

Sociodemographic, environmental, behavioural, and physiological aspects were among the 33 variables examined that potentially affect lung function.

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