• Atopy;
  • bronchiaL asthma;
  • immunoglobulin E;
  • prognosis;
  • respiratory syncytial virus;
  • skin prick test

Over a period of 12 months from 1981 to 1982, 83 patients aged less than 2 years were treated in hospital for acute bronchiolitis. The children were followed-up prospectively; 68 (83%) completed the study until 4.5–6.0 years of age. At this age, 17 (25%) of the 68 children with bronchiolitis still suffered from wheezing attacks. These 17 asthmatics suffered from both atopic dermatitis (29 versus 6%) and allergic rhinitis (29 versus 8%) more frequently than non-asthmatic children. In contrast, positive results in the skin prick tests were almost equally common (29 and 20%) in asthmatic and non-asthmatic children. In these tests, allergies to birch pollen, timothy grass pollen and house dust mite were most common; asthma was particularly associated with house dust mite allergy. The presence of atopic dermatitis, elevated immunoglobulin E values and repeated wheezing episodes between I and 2 years of age were significant risk factors for later asthma. In conclusion, the risk for later asthma is increased after early childhood bronchiolitis; the frequency of asthma was 25% in the present study. Our results confirm that atopics are at a greater risk of developing asthma later in childhood than non-atopics; the risk was significant from 1 year of age onwards.