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Will my other children develop asthma too?


Leno Thomas, MD, who specializes in pediatric pulmonology at Cardon Children's Medical Center.

Question: I have three children, all younger than 10. One child has developed asthma. Does this mean that my other children are going to develop it, too? What signs should I watch out for?

Answer: Because one of your children has developed asthma you will want to take extra precaution to watch for signs in the others. It does not necessarily mean that all your children will develop asthma, however.

Asthma affects 10 to 12 percent of children and is the leading cause of chronic illness among them. The onset of asthma can come at any age but many children have their first symptoms by age 5.

Many factors besides family history can play into whether a child may develop asthma. Other factors that may put your child at risk for developing asthma can include but are not limited to: being exposed to tobacco smoke before and after birth, low birth weight, being male, chronic respiratory infections and the presence of allergies.

There are many symptoms that you can look for in your children to monitor whether they may be developing asthma. If your children ever have difficulty breathing take him or her to the doctor right away. Symptoms of asthma include: difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest or complaint of chest "hurting," cough, whistling or wheezing sound when breathing, feeling weak or tired, chronic headaches and more. It is also important to know that a cough can sometimes be the only symptom that children may have when they are suffering from asthma. At the same time, not all coughing and wheezing is caused by asthma so it is imperative to see your local doctor in order to best diagnose your children properly.

If you feel that your children are exhibiting symptoms of asthma or you have any concerns related to their breathing your doctor will be able to go over your children's medical history and symptoms with you and proceed to a physical exam. For children older than there are pulmonary function tests and chest X-rays that can be ordered to help with a diagnosis. With younger children these tests are usually not able to be performed so your doctor will depend on the physical exam, history and symptoms to make a diagnosis.

Reviewed December 2010
Page Last Modified: 12/03/2010
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