Early bronchiolitis tied to adult lung problems

Infants who come down with a respiratory virus infection that causes inflammation of the lungs - a condition called bronchiolitis - are more likely to have respiratory symptoms and asthma in adulthood than are those without such a history, according to Spanish researchers.

A number of studies have documented wheezing after acute viral infantile bronchiolitis, Dr. Roberto Gomez, and colleagues at Hospital Clinico de Zaragoza, note. However, it appears that none have covered the long-term consequences of the disease into adulthood.

To do so, the researchers studied 71 subjects, ranging in age from 19 to 26, with an early history of bronchiolitis, and compared them with 32 “controls” who didn’t have bronchiolitis when they were infants.

The team reports in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology that the bronchiolitis group had a significantly higher rates of respiratory symptoms, such as asthma and wheezing, than did the controls.

Although the peak expiratory flow rate was lower in the bronchiolitis group, other pulmonary function results were similar to the control group, as were skin prick test responses that tested for allergies.

Given these findings, the researchers conclude that bronchiolitis in infancy is “an important risk factor” for asthma-like symptoms in adulthood, independent of allergic causes.

SOURCE: Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, November 2004.

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Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD