The genomic origins of asthma

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Lung function tracks from the earliest age that it can be reliably measured. Genome wide association studies suggest that most variants identified for common complex traits are regulatory in function and active during fetal development. Fetal programming of gene expression during development is critical to the formation of a normal lung. An understanding of how fetal developmental genes related to diseases of the lungs and airways is a critical area for research. This review article considers the developmental origins hypothesis, the stages of normal lung development and a variety of environmental exposures that might influence the developmental process: in utero cigarette smoke exposure, vitamin D and folate. We conclude with some information on developmental genes and asthma.

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