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Respir Med. 2000 Mar;94(3):288-94.

Asthma and airway hyper-responsiveness in adults who required hospital admission for bronchiolitis in early childhood.

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Unité de Recherche, Centre de Pneumologie, Hĵpital Laval, Université Laval, Sainte-Foy, Québec, Canada.


Viral respiratory infections in infancy may contribute to the development of airway hyper-responsiveness (AHR) in childhood but their effects on respiratory function at the adult age are still uncertain. A group of 42 subjects aged 17-35 with a pediatrician-made diagnosis of severe bronchiolitis in infancy (Br) were compared for the presence of asthma and AHR to a control group (C) paired for age and gender, without evidence of lower respiratory disease in infancy. All had a respiratory and environmental questionnaire, allergy skin prick tests, blood eosinophil count, total serum IgE determination and measurements of expiratory flows and airway response to methacholine. In Br and C groups, respectively, 38 and 12% of subjects had a physician-made diagnosis of asthma, 26 and 7% used bronchodilators and 12 and 0% an inhaled corticosteroid; 71 and 67%, respectively, were atopic, 50 and 24% were smokers and 43 and 17% had a first-degree relative with asthma. Mean baseline FEV1 and FEV1/FVC ratio were lower in the Br than in the C group, with 94/103% (P=0.002) and 80/87 (P<0.0001) of the predicted value, respectively. Geometric mean PC20 methacholine was significantly lower in the Br than in the C group 3.9/20.3 mg ml(-1) (P<0.0001). Mean blood eosinophil count and serum IgE levels were similar in both groups (P> 0.05). In conclusion, asthma and AHR were found more frequently in young adults with a past history of bronchiolitis, suggesting that this type of respiratory infection may contribute to altered pulmonary function in adulthood, although it may also represent an early manifestation of asthma. The influence of potential confounding factors, such as familial predisposition and exposure to cigarette smoke on the development of asthma and AHR in the Br group, cannot be excluded.

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