School of Paediatrics and Child Health

Louisa Owens


Louisa Owens

School of Paediatrics & Child Health
The University of Western Australia
Princess Margaret Hospital for Children
PO Box D 184, Subiaco
WA 6840

Phone (+61) 9340 8606
Fax (+61) 9388 2097


Start Date

22 January 2013

Submission Date


Louisa Owens


The impact of early life factors versus lifestyle on respiratory health of young adults - the 24 year review of the Perth Infant Asthma Follow-up study.


Genetic, environmental, immunological and microbial factors all play a role in both normal and abnormal respiratory development. Some respiratory abnormalities manifesting in adulthood may be due to congenital factors or have their origins during childhood, with environmental and lifestyle factors modifying the natural history of respiratory development.

This study is based on a longitudinal respiratory birth cohort whose participants are now 24 years of age and have had detailed data on respiratory and immunological follow up since birth. Lung function, airway responsiveness, skin prick responses, growth parameters, genotype, immune responses, as well as a questionnaire based on family history, respiratory and allergic symptoms, diet and lifestyle, home environment and allergen exposures have been assessed longitudinally at set ages during infancy, childhood and adolescence. This study is uniquely positioned to assess the influence of environmental and lifestyle factors on respiratory health in early adulthood, given that we have such comprehensive longitudinally collected data on lung function and airway responsiveness testing from shortly after birth, thus incorporating the congenital aspect of innate lung structure.

My main hypothesis is that there will be tracking of lung function from infancy through to adulthood but the strength of the associations seen in childhood will lessen as the influence of environmental factors becomes more pronounced.

Why my research is important

The Perth Infant Asthma Follow-up Study is one of the most comprehensive longitudinal birth cohort studies with environmental, genetic, immune response and respiratory function data collected from early infancy and throughout childhood. In order to fully understand the impact of lifestyle and environmental factors on adult respiratory health, it is necessary for lung function and early life risk factors to be evaluated during infancy, throughout childhood and continued into adulthood. These are the critical times for lung development and early abnormalities or changes may be confounding variables for outcomes seen in adulthood.


  • International Postgraduate Research Scholarship
  • Asthma Foundation WA PhD Top up Scholarship

School of Paediatrics and Child Health

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Monday, 1 September, 2014 1:19 PM