May 1 marks World Asthma Day 2018, which aims to raise awareness of the condition and suggest how we can help care for those around us suffering from the condition.
Here we round up the most recent research released since last year's World Asthma Day, which suggests some ways asthma can be prevented or improved in people of all ages.
Top up vitamin D levels
A UK study published last year found that taking oral vitamin D supplements alongside standard asthma medication could bring even bigger benefits for those with mild to moderate asthma, with consumption of vitamin D supplements associated with a 30 percent decrease in the rate of asthma attacks requiring treatment with steroid tablets or injections, and a 50 percent decrease in the risk of experiencing asthma attacks that require hospital assistance.
Maintain a healthy weight
A 2017 Japanese study found that being obese may worsen asthma in children, leading to repeated hospital admissions and longer stays. The large-scale study looked at 38,679 asthmatic children aged three to eight years, finding that children who were obese and hospitalized for asthma were more likely to be readmitted to hospital within 30 days and have longer hospital stays than those who were a normal weight.
Make man's best friend part of the family
According to two studies presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting last year growing up in a household with dogs may help protect children from developing asthma and eczema. The first study found that children born to mothers who had daily contact with dogs during pregnancy had a lower risk of eczema by age two, while the second study found that exposing asthmatic children with dog allergies to bacteria that dogs carry appeared to have a protective effect against asthma symptoms.
Fill up on fish
A 2017 review of two studies looking at the effects of fish oil consumption in pregnant women found that eating fish and taking supplements are both equally likely to protect children from developing asthma. The first study looked at pregnant women in their third trimester who took omega-3 fatty acids daily, while the second looked at pregnant women in their third trimester who took either fish oil, a placebo of olive oil, or no oil, but were able to eat fish if they wanted. The results showed that whether obtained from fish or fish oil, children of mothers who consumed high-dose omega-3 fatty acids daily during the third trimester were less likely to develop breathing problems.
An American study published earlier this year found that smoking during pregnancy could be even worse for children than exposing them to secondhand smoke in childhood. After assessing the lung function of children aged six to 11, the researchers found only a small association between exposure to tobacco smoke and airflow obstruction in the lungs, whereas exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy was associated with a 2.5 times increase in the chance of having airflow obstruction in children with asthma.