The origins of asthma might be traced back to events occurring during fetal life. Reduced lung development has been shown to be a risk factor both for viral induced wheeze and allergic asthma. The evidence for a causal relationship between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, chemical domestic products for cleaning, outdoor pollutants, and reduction in lung function is quite strong. Reduced maternal intake of vitamin E, vitamin D, and zinc, or increased use of paracetamol during pregnancy is associated with increased wheezing outcomes in children. The odds ratio for asthma onset is also increased in infants born from mothers with oligohydramnios, chorioamnionitis, hypertension, preeclampsia, diabetes and exposed to stressful events. The risk of developing allergic asthma is increased if the child is exposed in the first months of life to synthetic bedding and is enhanced by allergen exposure and an inadequate barrier function of the skin. In conclusion, several lines of evidence support the concept of fetal programming and very early life events in the development of the different phenotypes of asthma. Since some environmental triggers can be easily avoided and some protective factors can be easily implemented all efforts should be made to prevent intrauterine insults and early sensitization.
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