Last updated: Aug 01, 2009
However, much is known about the risk factors for the diseasesome factors you can change and others you cannot. For example, asthma is more common in boys than girls and in children in urban areas than other parts of the country; plus, it is more likely to be diagnosed in people who are obese than in those who are slender.
About 9% of the U.S. population under age 18 has asthma. Studies involving twins have found that a childs chance of developing asthma is anywhere from 50% to 80% dependent on genes, but the environment in which a child lives and grows is also very important. Exposure to dust, pet dander, pollution, exhaust, and secondhand smoke can all increase a childs risk for asthma. These allergens and irritants can also trigger the sudden exacerbation of asthma symptoms known as an asthma attack.