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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 141  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 361-363

Family history & the risk for adult onset asthma

1 Genomics Laboratory, Department of Studies in Zoology, University of Mysore, Mysore 570 006, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Pulmonary Medicine, J.S.S. Medical College; Allergy Asthma & Chest Center, Mysore 570 006, Karnataka, India
3 Allergy Asthma & Chest Center, Mysore 570 006, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication7-May-2015

Correspondence Address:
Nallur B Ramachandra
Genomics Laboratory, Department of Studies in Zoology, University of Mysore, Mysore 570 006, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-5916.156577

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How to cite this article:
Davoodi P, Mahesh P A, Holla AD, Ramachandra NB. Family history & the risk for adult onset asthma. Indian J Med Res 2015;141:361-3

How to cite this URL:
Davoodi P, Mahesh P A, Holla AD, Ramachandra NB. Family history & the risk for adult onset asthma. Indian J Med Res [serial online] 2015 [cited 2021 Sep 21];141:361-3. Available from:


Asthma is one of the most common chronic disorders worldwide. Epidemiological twin and family studies mainly on childhood asthma have offered evidence for familial aggregation of asthma and atopy. Asthma heritability of as high as > 90 per cent has been reported in separate studies [1],[2] . Segregation analyses on asthma have revealed different modes of inheritance such as polygenic inheritance with major gene involved [3],[4] , co-dominant inheritance [5] , and polygenic/multifactorial influence with a recessive component inheritance [6] . Risk factors for developing asthma in adults, particularly in those who did not have asthma in childhood, are less defined. With an aim to demonstrate the parental effect of asthma and to determine the relative contribution of family history as a potential risk factor in adult onset asthma and its mode of inheritance, and to investigate the effect of consanguinity in adult onset asthma, the present study was undertaken on consecutive patients attending a tertiary care asthma centre (Allergy, Asthma, and Chest Center) in Mysore, Karnataka, India, during 2009-2010.

The laboratory work was performed in the Genomics Laboratory of University of Mysore. The study protocol was approved by the Institutional Human Ethical Committee (IHEC) of the University of Mysore and informed written consent was obtained from cases and controls who participated in the study. Assuming history of maternal and paternal asthma of 20 per cent in cases and 10 per cent in controls with a 1:2 case control ratio, a sample of 195 cases and 390 controls was required to detect the level of significance at 0.05 with a power of 90 %. The sample size of 200 index cases and their family members were selected. Asthma in the index adult was diagnosed according to Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) guidelines [7] and American Thoracic Society Guidelines [8] . The patients with asthma were included only if they had their first respiratory symptoms after the age of 18 yr. A total of 400 families were randomly selected in four administrative wards and these wards were randomly selected from the 30 units that were part of a large epidemiology study on asthma in urban Mysore. Only one adult subject from each family was considered as index control. A genetic register was designed to collect data on demographics, respiratory symptoms, triggers, age of onset of asthma and medications. Also detailed family history that included data in the pedigrees was collected. Adult patients with asthma were asked about the diagnosis of asthma in the first family members including parents, grandparents, siblings, uncle/aunt and their children. Odds ratio and 95 % confidence interval were estimated to quantify the relation between determinants of interest and the risk of asthma. Logistic regression analysis was performed to assess independent association of variables found to be significant in univariate analysis.

The mean age of patients was 40±13 yr and that of controls was 39±13 yr. the male : female ratios were 1:1.35 in cases and 1:1.4 in controls. Family history of asthma was observed in 128 (64%) cases and 52 (13%) controls (P=0.001), revealing a significant association of asthma with family history of the disease in univariate analysis (OR = 13.29, 95% CI = 8.77 - 20.14) ([Table 1]). Parental consanguinity did not show any effect on adult onset asthma in this study. The independent association of maternal and paternal asthma with adult onset asthma was confirmed with paternal asthma associated with a higher risk of asthma in the offspring (OR = 11.82; P=0.003) than the maternal asthma (OR = 10.23; P=0.03) ([Table 1]). Sibling and aunt/uncle history of asthma was also found to be independently associated with adult onset asthma in our study population. Of the 128 families with asthma patient, the most common mode of asthma inheritance observed was dominant (61%). Of these families, only 6 per cent had consanguineous marriages, indicating null effect of consanguinity in the manifestation of asthma.
Table 1: Logistic regression analysis of patients with asthma (n=200) and healthy controls (n=400)

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In this study, paternal asthma was observed to be more significantly associated with asthma than the maternal asthma. This is in line with another study from India [9] where the paternal history of asthma was found to confer a greater risk than the maternal asthma. To investigate the role of maternal asthma in the offspring and to determine if a parent-of-origin effect exists, a meta-analysis of multiple studies was performed. It was concluded that maternal asthma predisposed offspring to the disease more than paternal asthma [10] .

Limitations of this study include patients being selected from a tertiary care center which may not be reflective of the general population. The control population though identified from the general population was limited to four administrative wards and may not be representative of Mysore city. There are also possibilities of information bias if the index cases and controls did not have a precise knowledge of their family members having asthma.

In conclusion, it was observed that family history of asthma conferred a great risk in developing new onset asthma in adults. Paternal asthma was observed to be more significantly associated with asthma than the maternal asthma. Further studies on a larger population of adults with new onset of the disease are needed to confirm these findings.

   Acknowledgment Top

Authors thank the families who participated in this study, and the staff from Allergy, Asthma and Chest Center of Mysore for their help in sample collection and also to the University of Mysore, Department of Studies in Zoology for providing facilities to conduct this work.

   References Top

Thomsen SF, van der Sluis S, Kyvik KO, Skytthe A, Skadhauge LR, Backer V. Increase in the heritability of asthma from 1994 to 2003 among adolescent twins. Respir Med 2011; 105 : 1147-52.   Back to cited text no. 1
Fagnani C, Annesi-Maesano I, Brescianini S, D'Ippolito C, Medda E, Nisticò L, et al. Heritability and shared genetic effects of asthma and hay fever: an Italian study of young twins. Twin Res Hum Genet 2008; 11 : 121-31.  Back to cited text no. 2
Chen Y, Schnell AH, Rennie DC, Elston RC, Lockinger LA, Dosman JA. Segregation analyses of asthma and respiratory allergy: the Humboldt family study. Am J Med Genet 2001; 104 : 23-30.  Back to cited text no. 3
Schnell AH, Palmer LJ, Elston RC. Segregation analysis of asthma and respiratory allergy in population-based samples of families. Genet Epidemiol 2001; 21 (Suppl 1) : S30-5.  Back to cited text no. 4
European Community Respiratory Health Group. Genes for asthma? An analysis of the European c0 ommunity r0 espiratory h0 ealth s0 urvey. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1997; 156 : 1773-80.  Back to cited text no. 5
Wang TN, Ko YC, Wang TH, Cheng LS, Lin YC. Segregation analysis of asthma: recessive major gene component for asthma in relation to history of atopic diseases. Am J Med Genet 2000; 93 : 373-80.  Back to cited text no. 6
Bateman ED, Hurd SS, Barnes PJ, Bousquet J, Drazen JM, FitzGerald M, et al. Global strategy for asthma management and prevention: GINA executive summary. Eur Respir J 2008; 31 : 143-78.  Back to cited text no. 7
American Thoracic Society. Standardization of Spirometry, 1994 update. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1995; 152 : 1107-36.   Back to cited text no. 8
Mathew AC, Steephen S, David R, Ramalingam S, Krishnamurthy S. Parental atopy and exposure to pets on asthma: a hospital-based case-control study. Int J Prev Med 2011; 2 : 151-7.  Back to cited text no. 9
Lim RH, Kobzik L, Dahl M. Risk for asthma in offspring of asthmatic mothers versus fathers: A meta analysis. PLoS One 2010; 5 : e10134.  Back to cited text no. 10


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