In the United States, asthma cases have increased by more than 60 percent since the early 1980s, and asthma-related deaths have doubled to 5,000 a year. I remember when I was in elementary school, it was unusual to have someone in your class with asthma. Now, it would be unusual NOT to have someone in your class with asthma.
So far, researchers have hypothesized that it’s a combination of genetics and an increased exposure to potential allergens that’s causing the alarming increase of incidences of asthma. Air quality in the homes is getting worse with more and more cleaning solutions being used, and people are breathing the formaldahyde that’s in our carpeting on a daily basis. Decreased air quality is coupled with the allergy-friendly modern house design, says Dr. William E. Walsh, MD, FACC, an allergist practicing in Minnesota: “Fifty years ago we lived in old, drafty houses, and the breeze dried and freshened the air, and cleared out mold and other allergens. Nowadays, our super-insulated houses don’t breathe adequately. Making basements into a living space increases mold exposure because mold grows in any basement.” Food has become another source of exposure to allergens, with more preservatives being put in the foods. Researchers hypothesize that an increase in vaccinations, cesarean births, and antibiotic intake may be playing a role as well.