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Pediatr Pulmonol. 2007 Mar;42(3):290-7.

Relationship of early childhood viral exposures to respiratory symptoms, onset of possible asthma and atopy in high risk children: the Canadian Asthma Primary Prevention Study.

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James Hogg iCAPTURE Centre for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, St. Paul's Hospital, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


The contribution of respiratory viral infections to the onset of asthma and atopy is controversial. In "high risk" children (n = 455) born into asthmatic/atopic families, we determined the relationship of exposures to common respiratory viruses and concomitant respiratory symptoms, and to subsequent possible asthma and atopy at ages 1 and 2 years. Frozen nasal specimens, obtained when children were 2 weeks, 4, 8, and 12 months old, underwent reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing for parainfluenza virus (PIV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and picornavirus (rhinovirus/enterovirus). Odds ratios of viral RT-PCR results to respiratory symptoms ("cold," rhinitis, cough, wheezing) and to possible asthma or atopy at 1 and 2 years of age were calculated. Positive viral RT-PCR was associated with increased odds of "cold" and cough; PIV and picornavirus were associated with rhinitis, and RSV was associated with wheezing. PIV was associated with increased odds of atopy at 1 year of age in the control group; PIV and RSV were associated with possible asthma at 2 years of age. We conclude that in high-risk children, viral exposures documented by RT-PCR are associated with respiratory symptoms, and exposures to PIV and RSV during the first year of life are associated with the initial onset of possible asthma.

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