Primary prevention of asthma
This section contains guidance and information about preventing asthma from developing in people who do not already have a diagnosis of asthma (primary prevention).
Although evidence is emerging about the aetiology of asthma and the role of various predisposing factors, there is no reliable evidence that interventions to prevent asthma are effective in individuals.
Table. Risk factors and protective factors for developing asthma Opens in a new window Please view and print this figure separately: http://www.asthmahandbook.org.au/figure/show/117
Table. Risk factors and protective factors for developing asthma
Table. Risk factors and protective factors for developing asthma
|Life stage||Exposure||Effect on asthma risk*|
||Low maternal vitamin D level||Probably increased|
|Maternal obesity||Probably increased|
|Maternal smoking||Probably increased|
|Maternal paracetamol use||Possibly increased|
|Maternal antibiotic use||Possibly increased|
|Maternal vitamin E intake||Possibly reduced|
||Cigarette smoke||Probably increased|
|Low birth weight||Probably increased|
|Pre-term delivery||Probably increased|
|Delivery by Caesarean section||Possibly increased|
|Neonatal jaundice||Possibly increased|
||Outdoor air pollution||Probably increased|
|Exposure to allergens to which sensitised||Probably increased|
|Cigarette smoke||Probably increased|
|Proton pump inhibitors||Possibly increased|
|H2 receptor antagonist||Possibly increased|
|Pets (if not sensitised)||Possibly reduced|
|Dietary antioxidants, fruits, vegetables||Possibly reduced|
|Mediterranean diet||Possibly reduced|
|Farming lifestyle||Possibly reduced|
|Respiratory syncytial virus infection||Possibly increased|
|Human rhinovirus infection||Possibly increased|
|Antibiotics (where unavoidable)||Possibly increased|
|Reduced diversity of intestinal microbiota||Possibly increased|
||Airborne sensitisers or irritants in workplace or home||Increased|
|Ryegrass pollen (high concentration associated with springtime thunderstorm in sensitised individual)§||Probably increased|
|Cigarette smoke||Possibly increased|
|Low physical activity||Possibly increased|
|Fish consumption||Possibly reduced|
|Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids||Possibly reduced|
|Dietary antioxidants, fruits, vegetables||Possibly reduced|
|Mediterranean diet||Possibly reduced|
*Summary of overall effects based on currently available evidence
§ Exposure to outdoor air with high concentrations of ryegrass pollen immediately preceding a springtime thunderstorm has been associated with new-onset asthma in people with seasonal allergic rhinitis sensitised to ryegrass pollen.
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Last reviewed version 2.0
For information on preventing asthma symptoms or flare-ups, see
In this section
Asthma prevention: prenatal
Prenatal advice for women concerned about their children’s asthma risk
Asthma prevention: infant feeding
Infant feeding and asthma prevention
Asthma prevention: children
Asthma prevention in children at risk of developing asthma
Asthma prevention: adults
Asthma prevention in adults