Key points

  • Major early-life risk factors for respiratory disease include abnormal antenatal lung growth, low birthweight, prematurity and bronchopulmonary dysplasia, passive smoke exposure and viral infections.
  • Abnormal antenatal lung development is common and has a high mortality risk.
  • Low birthweight and prematurity are key risk factors for respiratory disease.
  • Tobacco smoke exposure, during pregnancy and after birth, can have respiratory repercussions throughout childhood, and is a risk factor for asthma and infectious illness.
  • Respiratory viral infections in early childhood can have a long-term impact on childhood lung function and asthma or wheezing.

See the entire Early-life events Chapter