Children who have airway hyperresponsiveness, a symptom of asthma, and allergic manifestations have an increased risk of developing asthma by the time they become adults, according to Danish researchers.
Dr. Celeste Porsbjerg, of Bispebjerg Hospital, Copenhagen, and colleagues followed 291 subjects for 12 years. The subjects were 7 to 17 years of age at enrollment in 1986. They completed provided information on asthma, allergies and lifestyle in 1986 and again in 1998. They also underwent asthma and allergy testing.
At entry in 1986, roughly 4 percent of the group had asthma. This increased to nearly 12 percent by the second survey.
According to the team, wheezing in childhood raised the risk of asthma and allergic sensitization to house dust mites in adulthood more than threefold. Having dermatitis as a child also raised the risk of asthma in adulthood.
“The development of asthma in young adults could be predicted in 67 percent of cases by factors that were already present in childhood,” Porsbjerg explained in an interview with Reuters Health. “Among people who do not have any of these factors in childhood only a very few (4 percent) went on to develop asthma in adulthood.”
If it’s possible to identify those at risk of developing asthma, then “early intervention is a possibility,” Porsbjerg noted. “An example of intervention could be immunotherapy,” she said. “Individuals who are allergic to house dust mites and who also have hyperresponsive airways, have a very high risk of developing asthma, and in these subjects immunotherapy could be indicated in order to stop this development.”
SOURCE: Chest February 2006.
Revision date: July 3, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.