Severe asthma in youth elevates risk of respiratory disorder later

June 1, 2010

Children with severe asthma run 30 times the risk of asthma-free children of developing adult chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a new study finds.

Children with severe asthma may carry a 30-fold greater risk of developing adult chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) than children without asthma, a new study from the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, reveals. Results were presented at the American Thoracic Society 2010 International Conference held in May in New Orleans.

Researchers said that the aim of the Melbourne Asthma Study was to describe the association between the pattern of childhood asthma and the risk of developing adult COPD.

Participants were recruited at age 7 from a 1957 birth cohort and were assessed regularly until age 50. At recruitment, participants had no wheezing history, as well as no intermittent, persistent, or severe asthma. Of the survivors from the original group, 197 responded to a questionnaire and underwent lung function testing for the new study.

The study involved children recruited during the 1960s, when no anti-inflammatory medications were on the market. Recent studies show that anti-inflammatory medications do not influence the course of mild childhood asthma, but no studies have been performed to date in children with severe asthma.