Asthma asthma is particularly important, due to its early,


Asthma is the most common chronic disease in childhood. Because of
the various and different phenotypes, it is difficult to agree on a clear
definition of this condition. Alternatively, a sort of operational description
is used: asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways where many
cells and many cellular elements are involved. The prevalence of asthma in
children has increased considerably in Europe in the second half of 20th
century and it affects about a third of the population at any time between 4
and 80 years. However, it starts much earlier than other diseases, therefore it
has an impact on quality of life and health costs that goes through the course
of existence. Consequently, the economic impact of asthma is particularly
important, due to its early, often precocious start.


Asthma results from an interaction between different environmental
and genetic factors. Environmental influence begins during pregnancy: allergic
sensitization has been described before birth and numerous studies have shown
that babies, children of smokers, have a reduced respiratory function compared
to children of non-smokers. Smoking increases both the risk of asthma and
reduced respiratory function during childhood. The increase in the prevalence
of asthma, especially of the allergic one, is associated with the change in

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