Family History of Cancer: A Significant Risk Factor for Childhood Asthma?

Children with a family history of cancer may be more likely to develop childhood asthma.

This article is part of MPR‘s coverage of the ACAAI 2019 meeting, taking place in Houston, TX. Our staff will report on medical research related to allergies, asthma, and more conducted by experts in the field. Check back regularly for more news from ACAAI 2019.

HOUSTON — Children with a family history of cancer may be more likely to develop childhood asthma, according to research presented at the 2019 Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, held November 7 to11, 2019, in Houston, Texas.

Investigators of this study sought to examine the transgenerational relationship between childhood asthma diagnoses and family histories of cancer. Pooling household data extracted from the National Health Interview Survey, the investigators analyzed demographic and clinical characteristics among a sample of adults (n=57,181) and children from 2012 to 2016. Bivariate analyses were used to test associations between demographic variables, family history of cancer, and childhood asthma. To adjust for confounding factors identified in the literature, univariate and multivariate logistic regression models were applied.

The average age of children included in the sample was 8.67±5.3 years and the average age of adults was 38.01±9.8 years. Children with asthma were significantly older (10.67 vs 8.35 years; P <.001) and had more male participants compared with the total sample (59.2% vs 51.4%; P <.001).

Chi-square testing demonstrated a greater incidence of childhood asthma in families with a history of cancer (20.6% vs 13.4%; P <.001). In unadjusted analyses, family history of cancer was significantly positively associated with childhood asthma (odds ratio, 1.68; 95% CI, 1.47-1.91; P <.001). After adjusting for factors including age, sex, race, education, and smoking status, the association remained similarly strong (odds ratio, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.24-1.63; P <.001).

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A family history of cancer was found to be a significant risk factor for the development of childhood asthma. The investigators concluded that clinicians should consider early asthma screening in children who report a family history of cancer to improve asthma diagnoses and outcomes.

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Nagarajan S, Hoepner L, Joks R. The effect of family histories of cancer on childhood asthma diagnoses. Presented at: American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting 2019; November 7-11, 2019; Houston, TX. Abstract P202. 

This article originally appeared on Pulmonology Advisor