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Keywords:

  • wheezing;
  • cough;
  • asthma;
  • preschool children;
  • respiratory symptoms;
  • respiratory infectious diseases;
  • survey;
  • breathlessness

Abstract

Objective

To determine the prevalence, impact, and treatment of asthma-like symptoms in preschool children in USA and Europe.

Study Design

7251 households in USA and Europe with at least one child aged 1–5 years were interviewed by telephone for recurrent days troubled by cough, wheeze or breathlessness during the recent 6 winter months.

Results

9490 young children were identified, 32% of whom were reported to suffer from recurrent days with troublesome cough, wheeze or breathlessness. Detailed interview with the 2700 mothers of the symptomatic children showed that 24% of this interview population suffered weekly symptoms despite current treatment with considerable impact on lifestyle and healthcare resource use. Antibiotics, cough- and herbal-medications were the most commonly used treatments. Anti-asthmatic and anti-allergy agents were prescribed in the order: inhaled β2-agonists > inhaled corticosteroid > oral anti-histamines > oral corticosteroids. The reported symptom burden was higher in Southern Europe and there were pronounced regional differences in treatment and diagnostic terms.

Conclusions

Recurrent days with cough, wheeze or breathlessness in preschool children represents a major cause of morbidity in preschool children despite current treatment. There is a striking lack of international consensus on diagnosis and treatment. This uncontrolled morbidity highlights a significant unmet clinical need in preschool children. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2007, 42:723–728. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.