Asthma is a noncommunicable disease, meaning it doesn’t spread from person to person. We don’t know exactly what causes asthma, but we do know it’s a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some of these factors you’d probably guess. For example, if a child is around tobacco smoke, he’s more likely to develop asthma. Other factors are more surprising. For example, I never would have guessed that asthma risk can be increased by--

  1. 1. Job Insecurity

    After the economic downturn hit Europe in 2008, many people found themselves worrying about whether or not they’d be able to keep their jobs. A team of German researchers looked at the effects of job insecurity on health and found that “every 25% increase in perceived likelihood of job loss was tied to a 24% increased risk of being diagnosed with new-onset asthma.”

  2. 2. Plastics

    Phthalates are the group of chemicals that make plastic flexible. And they’re everywhere-- from school supplies to nail polish and even blue jeans. A study at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health was unable to find any American woman who weren’t exposed to phthalates, but they did find that those with a higher level of phthalates in their urine were 72% to 78% more likely to have children who develop asthma.

  3. 3. C-Sections

    Speaking of having kids, babies born via Caesarean section rather than vaginal birth are 20% more likely to develop asthma. This is most likely because C-sections expose babies to more bacteria which could in turn modify their immune system and make them more susceptible to asthma.