Prevention

Several efforts have been made to prevent the development of asthma. These can be divided into: primary prevention, the aim of preventing symptoms and signs of allergy and asthma from occurring at all; and secondary prevention of asthma in a predisposed child who has, for example, atopic dermatitis. Tertiary prevention is the prevention of symptoms in an affected child. Prolonged feeding with breast milk may prevent respiratory infections but probably not asthma.

It is important to avoid exposure to tobacco smoke products. Since lung function is decreased in the newborn children of smoking mothers, it is especially important for such children to avoid worsening the impairment by taking up smoking  in adolescence and young adulthood. In high-risk children, trials have been performed to reduce exposure to allergens, especially house dust mites and animal dander, but the efficacy of such measures remains to be proven. Although allergic sensitisation is related to early allergen exposure, low exposure to animal dander and house dust mite do not seem to reduce the occurrence of bronchial asthma in the general population.

Trials of pharmacological prevention have been performed using antihistamines, but so far the effect seems limited. It has been proposed that early introduction of anti-inflammatory drugs like inhaled steroids may influence the long-term development of asthma, but this remains to be proven.

Asthma education and asthma schools are important tools for educating patients, enabling them to take proper precautions before taking part in different activities.

See the entire Childhood asthma Chapter