In a recent publication in the European Respiratory Journal, researchers sought to investigate the correlations and relative significance of early-life events on lung function at age 24 years.

The study included 7,545 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children aged from birth to age 24 years.

The researchers used 33 factors that could be associated with a decline in lung function and categorized these factors into five groups based on the timing of exposure. The groups included 1) maternal and child demographic; 2) perinatal; 3) postnatal; 4) early childhood; and 5) adolescence characteristics.

In this study, the researchers measured the lung function of the 7,545 participants who had lung function measured at least once at ages 8, 15, and 24 years. Measurements of lung function included forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), FEV1/FVC, and forced expiratory flow at 25% to 75% of FVC.

All the measurements were standardized for gender, age, and height. The association and relative importance (RI) of each characteristic for each lung function measure were assessed utilizing linear regression and corrected for other characteristics in the same and previous categories. The percentage of the remaining variance explained by each characteristic was calculated.

The results indicated that for decreased FVC, lower maternal and perinatal BMI, lower birthweight, lower lean mass, and higher fat mass in childhood had the largest RI (0.5%-7.7%). Diminished FEV1/FVC (RI 0.6%-0.8%) was correlated with greater lean mass and childhood asthma. Additionally, decreased FEV1 (RI 0.5%-4.6%) was linked with having no siblings, lower birthweight, lower lean mass, and higher fat mass.

The researchers concluded that factors in infancy and childhood that have the greatest influence on early-adult lung function include maternal perinatal BMI, birthweight, childhood lean and fat mass, and early-onset asthma.

The authors indicated that besides well-established variables included in lung-function equations, such as gender and height, their findings offer more evidence for associations of perinatal and childhood characteristics with early-adult lung function and quantifies their relative significance.

The authors concluded, “Our findings highlight the importance of early-life characteristics in lung function and suggest public health policies targeting modifiable risk factors in childhood may improve maximally attained lung function and minimize poor respiratory health in later life.”

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.