Trajectories of Lung Function in Infants and Children: Setting a Course for Lifelong Lung Health.
For healthy individuals, it is increasingly accepted that lung function follows along an individual percentile established early in life and that the level of maximal function reached as a young adult can affect the subsequent development of lung disease that occurs with the normal aging process. This emphasizes the need to maximize early lung function. The trajectories of lung function are at least partially established by perinatal factors, including prematurity and in utero exposures (tobacco exposure, nutrition, inflammation, etc), although they can also be affected by a variety of additional factors and exposures throughout the life span. Whether lung function trajectories can be impacted or reset if established under suboptimal conditions is an unanswered question, offering new avenues for research. In this review, we will summarize important articles outlining lung function trajectories and linking pediatric lung function tests to adult lung function tests decades later. We will focus on perinatal factors and outline progress and opportunities for further investigation into the potential ability to reset trajectories to impact long-term lung health.
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