Wheezing Due to Virus Linked to Asthma Risk

October 2, 2008

Wheezing illnesses due to rhinovirus infection are a strong predictor of developing asthma in high-risk children, according to a report in the Oct. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

THURSDAY, Oct. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Wheezing illnesses due to rhinovirus infection are a strong predictor of developing asthma in high-risk children, according to a report in the Oct. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Daniel J. Jackson, M.D., from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and colleagues collected nasal lavages from 259 children from birth to 6 years of age who were at high risk of developing asthma (at least one parent with respiratory allergies and/or diagnosed asthma). Samples were collected during scheduled clinic visits and during times of acute respiratory illnesses.

The researchers found that 90 percent of wheezing illnesses had a viral origin. There was a higher risk of asthma at 6 years of age in children who had wheezing illnesses from birth to 3 years of age due to respiratory syncytial virus (odds ratio 2.6), rhinovirus (OR, 9.8), or both (OR, 10.0). Nearly 90 percent (26 of 30) of children with rhinovirus infection eventually developed asthma. Although both aeroallergen sensitization and wheezing due to rhinovirus at 1 year of age increased asthma risk by similar levels, by 3 years of age, wheezing due to rhinovirus was much more strongly linked to asthma (OR, 25.6) than aeroallergens (OR, 3.4).

"Among outpatient viral wheezing illnesses in infancy and early childhood, those caused by rhinovirus infections are the most significant predictors of the subsequent development of asthma at age 6 years in a high-risk birth cohort," Jackson and colleagues conclude.

One of the study authors reports a financial relationship with a pharmaceutical company.

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