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Predictors of Middle-Age Lung Function Evaluated

Lungs affected by lifestyle factors, like smoking, and early life factors, such as respiratory infection

FRIDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Lung function in middle age is impacted by lifestyle factors, such as smoking, but also early childhood factors, such as low birth weight and respiratory infection, according to a study in the January issue of Chest.

Peter W.G. Tennant, of Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, and colleagues studied 252 subjects born in 1947 from the Newcastle Thousand Families Study who had lung function measured. The group included 167 subjects who had severe lung infection before the age of 5 years, and 85 controls. The groups were surveyed on socioeconomic and lifestyle factors, and lung function was measured in 122 subjects between the ages of 49 and 51 years.

The researchers found that reduced lung function measured by forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV 1) at 14 years was predicted by low body mass index; lower height; being breast-fed less than four weeks; severe respiratory illness, tuberculosis or asthma in childhood; and lower socioeconomic status. Greater declines (or smaller increases) in FEV 1 by age 49 to 51 years were associated with being female, a higher FEV 1 at 14 years, a lower birth weight, a greater number of cigarettes smoked, and severe respiratory illness in childhood.

"This study suggests that the change in FEV 1 between youth and middle age depends on several factors acting throughout life, including FEV 1 in adolescence, sex, cigarette smoking, birth weight, and childhood respiratory health," the authors write.

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