As part of our ongoing seminar series, the Centre of Excellence in Severe Asthma hosted Prof. Urs Frey, for a webinar on “Early-life Factors and Asthma and Lung Functional Development” on 25 October, 2017.
Early-life lung development has long-term effects on the development of airways disease. Wheeze and reduced lung function in childhood increases the risk of developing lung disease later in life (including asthma and COPD). An understanding of how this occurs is important to identify preventative approaches to reduce disease burden.
No single mechanism leads to reduced lung functional growth. Rather, many small effects in early life contribute to long-term outcomes. Factors that affect early life lung development include tobacco smoke exposure, pollution, birth weight, breastfeeding and early-life airway remodelling. Some factors improve lung function growth, although with small effect sizes. Reduced air pollution, improved nutrition and appropriate asthma control are likely to improve long-term lung function.
Approaches that reduce the development of lung disease will likely require many changes. Each individual change will contribute to small improvements in lung function. When combined, these approaches may reduce the development of airway disease in later life.
Prof. Urs Frey is Chair of Pediatrics and Medical Director at the University Children’s Hospital in Basel, Switzerland. He has a MD degree in Pediatrics from the University of Berne, Switzerland, and a PhD in Medical Physics from the University of Leicester, UK.
He is an established researcher in paediatric pulmonology, particularly in the field of asthma and developmental physiology. He leads a birth cohort study investigating genetic and environmental influences on infant lung development and is also interested in the mathematical modelling of complex airways disease. At the time of this presentation, he was on sabbatical leave at the Woolcock Institute in Sydney.