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Risk Factors in Childhood Can Predict Asthma During Adulthood

A new study in the February issue of CHEST, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, shows that the presence of certain asthma-related risk factors during childhood may increase the risk of developing asthma in adulthood. Factors such as histamine responsiveness, allergies to dust, and skin reactions like dermatitis were predictors of asthma later on in life.

Danish researchers followed 291 patients aged 7 to 17 years at study enrollment for 12 years to determine the incidence and remission of asthma and its predictors. All participants were interviewed and underwent asthma/allergy testing at the beginning of the study and at follow-up 12 years later. The prevalence of asthma during the initial testing was 4.1 percent and that prevalence increased to 11.6 percent during the 12 year follow-up, at which point 19.6 percent had experienced asthma symptoms at some time. During follow-up, 16.1 percent of patients developed asthma, which was predicted by wheezing during childhood as well as airway hyperresponsiveness to histamine (AHR), allergic sensitization to house dust mites (HDM), and dermatitis. The presence of more than one of these risk factors was associated with a high probability of developing asthma at follow-up (61.5 percent). In patients without any risk factors, only 4 percent developed asthma during follow-up. Among patients with asthma, 40 percent remitted during follow-up.

Researchers speculate that patients with known risk factors in childhood may need a more intensive interventional approach in follow-up care. If your child has experienced some of these risk factors, it may be an indication of asthma or asthma development later in life and it might be a good idea to discuss those factors with the child’s doctor.

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