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BMJ. 2001 Feb 17;322(7283):390-5.

Early childhood infectious diseases and the development of asthma up to school age: a birth cohort study.

Author information

  • 1Department of Pulmonology and Allergology, University Children's Hospital, Lindwurmstrasse 4, 80337 Munich, Germany. sabina.illi@kk-i.med.uni-muenchen.de

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the association between early childhood infections and subsequent development of asthma.

DESIGN:

Longitudinal birth cohort study.

SETTING:

Five children's hospitals in five German cities.

PARTICIPANTS:

1314 children born in 1990 followed from birth to the age of 7 years.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Asthma and asthmatic symptoms assessed longitudinally by parental questionnaires; atopic sensitisation assessed longitudinally by determination of IgE concentrations to various allergens; bronchial hyperreactivity assessed by bronchial histamine challenge at age 7 years.

RESULTS:

Compared with children with </=1 episode of runny nose before the age of 1 year, those with >/=2 episodes were less likely to have a doctor's diagnosis of asthma at 7 years old (odds ratio 0.52 (95% confidence interval 0.29 to 0.92)) or to have wheeze at 7 years old (0.60 (0.38 to 0.94)), and were less likely to be atopic before the age of 5 years. Similarly, having >/=1 viral infection of the herpes type in the first 3 years of life was inversely associated with asthma at age 7 (odds ratio 0.48 (0.26 to 0.89)). Repeated lower respiratory tract infections in the first 3 years of life showed a positive association with wheeze up to the age of 7 years (odds ratio 3.37 (1.92 to 5.92) for >/=4 infections v </=3 infections).

CONCLUSION:

Repeated viral infections other than lower respiratory tract infections early in life may reduce the risk of developing asthma up to school age.

Comment in

PMID:
11179155
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC26566
Free PMC Article

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