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Asthma in children: is asthma inherited?

ASTHMA, GENERALLY SPEAKING, manifests itself in the form of cough, wheeze and breathlessness. These attacks may be short or long; mild, moderate or severe; rare or frequent; coming on at the change of season or persisting throughout the year. Children from families with a strong history of asthma, eczema, and allergies are most prone to developing asthma. So are children with asthma that started in infancy.

Is Asthma Inherited?

Just why asthma occurs in some and not in others is not well understood. Is asthma inherited?

The answer is probably it can be inherited. But it is important to note that it does not always follow a predictable line of inheritance. This means that it can skip from one generation to another, or appear in cousins, uncles or aunts. Many asthmatics, who seemingly do not have a family background of asthma, probably have a parent or a relative, or even a grandparent, with a wheezy condition that was incorrectly labelled as chronic bronchitis, or pulmonary emphysema, a condition in which the air sacs of the lungs are either damaged or enlarged causing breathlessness. The presence of an asthmatic gene in an individual does not necessarily lead to development of asthma. Many brothers and sisters of asthmatic patients carry the asthmatic gene, yet never show any outward signs of the disease.

Asthma that starts in infancy or childhood is more likely to be inherited than asthma that develops later in life. When one parent has asthma, especially the allergic type, the chances are one out of two that their child will develop asthma. When both parents are afflicted, the odds increase to three out of four.