Early childhood wheezing increases teen asthma risk

pfm“Wheezy” children with a family history of asthma have reduced lung function and increased risk of asthma and other allergic conditions by age 15, according to a new Canadian study in JAMA Pediatrics.

By showing that asthma-associated deficits in lung function are already present at a very young age, the study suggests that interventions to reduce early-life wheezing could have significant long-term health benefits.

The researchers, including AllerGen investigators Drs Meghan Azad, Edmond Chan, Anita Kozyrskyj and Allan Becker, examined the data for 320 children participating in the Canadian Asthma Primary Prevention Study (CAPPS), following them from before birth until adolescence.

They found that children who wheezed consistently through infancy and early childhood had the worst lung function (9% decrease) and the highest asthma risk (11 times higher than non-wheezers) at age 15, and that even children with “transient early wheeze” (those who wheezed as babies but not as young children) had reduced lung function (5% decrease) and increased asthma risk (4 times higher) as teenagers.

“Although many treatments exist to manage asthma symptoms, it is a lifelong disease and there is no cure,” observes lead author Dr. Azad. “Prevention is the best approach to reducing the global burden of asthma, and our study provides important new information to inform asthma prevention strategies.”

Read the press release.