Asthma is a long-term lung disease that causes wheezing, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, and coughing as a result of inflamed and narrowed airways. Signs of asthma typically show up during childhood; about seven million children in the United States have asthma. People at higher risks for developing asthma include those with allergies, eczema, or parents with asthma.
Image Source: Seb Oliver
Researchers from Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands have discovered a new potential risk factor for asthma. They studied the relationship between children sharing a bed with their parents as infants and their risk of developing asthma later in life. Researchers used a questionnaire to gather information about asthma symptoms of children one to six years old and their sleeping patterns when they were two months and 24 months old. A child was said to have been “bed-sharing” if he or she slept in the same bed as the mother or both parents.
The researchers discovered that children who shared a bed with their parents at the age of two months did not have an increased risk of wheezing or developing asthma, while children who were bed-sharing at the age of twenty-four months had a higher chance of wheezing between the ages of three to six and of developing asthma at age six.
The study indicates that there is a correlation between bed-sharing as toddlers and wheezing and developing asthma at a later age. However, the researchers speculate that this association may exist because parents who notice their children developing asthma symptoms choose to share the bed with them in order to monitor those symptoms more effectively. It is also possible that parents who share the bed with their toddlers are more observant about their child’s breathing patterns and therefore more likely to report wheezing or asthma symptoms in the questionnaire. With all of these other confounding factors, Dr Maartje Luijk, one of the researchers, stated that further research is necessary to determine if there is an actual connection between “bed-sharing” and the development of asthma.