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Keywords:

  • adult;
  • asthma;
  • bronchiolitis;
  • infancy;
  • wheezing

To cite this article: Ruotsalainen M, Piippo-Savolainen E, Hyvärinen MK, Korppi M. Adulthood asthma after wheezing in infancy: a questionnaire study at 27 years of age. Allergy 2010; 65: 503–509.

Abstract

Background:  Wheezing in early childhood is a heterogeneous condition, the long-term prognosis varying from total recovery to chronic asthma. Though short-term outcome has been actively studied, there is lack of data on long-term outcome until adulthood. The aim of the study was to evaluate the prevalence and risk factors of asthma at 26–29 years of age after early-life wheezing.

Methods:  At the median age of 27.3 years (range 26.3–28.6), a questionnaire was sent to 78 study subjects hospitalized for wheezing at <24 months of age, and 59 (76%) answered. Asthma, allergy and weight status were compared with selected controls followed up from birth and with non-selected population controls recruited for this adulthood study.

Results:  Doctor-diagnosed asthma was present in 20% of the former bronchiolitis patients, compared with 5% in the two control groups (OR 2.1, 95% CI 0.3–17.9 vs selected controls; OR 5.2, 95% CI 1.7–15.8 vs nonselected controls). The respective figures for current self-reported asthma were 41% and 7–10% (OR 11.4, 95% CI 2.3–56.1 vs selected controls; OR 12.2, 95% CI 4.4–33.7 vs nonselected controls). Current allergic rhinitis and current smoking were significantly associated with asthma, but current overweight or obesity was not. In multivariate analyses, early-life wheezing was an independent risk factor of adulthood asthma.

Conclusion:  An increased asthma risk in early-life wheezers continues, even after many symptom-free years at school age, at least until 27 years of age.