Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Childhood adversity, anxiety and asthma

Psychological factors, like stress and anxiety, can make people's asthma worse. However, a new study of 18,000 adults in the Americas, Europe and Asia has suggested that childhood adversity - such as the death of a parent or physical abuse - and mental-health problems could lead to the development of the condition in adulthood. The study used interviews carried out between 2001 and 2004 as part of the World Mental Health surveys and was analysed by researchers at the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand. It found that childhood adversity predicted adult-onset asthma. The more 'adversities,' such as child abuse, parental neglect, parental divorce, parental mental disorder and family violence that a child experienced the greater the risk of developing asthma as an adult. Anxiety and depression in childhood was also a strong predictor of asthma later in life. Stress is known to have an effect on the immune system so this could be the mechanism that leads to the increased risk of asthma.

You can find out more about this research at

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