Early-Onset Asthma Likely to Recur
From: Robina Suwol
Date: 13 Oct 2003
Remote Name: 220.127.116.11
The earlier asthma begins in youngsters, the less likely they are to outgrow
it by adulthood, according to a 17-year New Zealand study.
MOST CHILDREN with asthma, particularly those with mild cases, outgrow the
disease. The latest findings offer an additional way of predicting which
childhood sufferers will have the disease as adults.
The study followed 613 children who were part of a long-running study of the
physical and mental health of all children born in the New Zealand town of
Dunedin in one year, starting in 1972. Some participants never had asthma, but
experienced wheezing -- asthma's hallmark symptom -- at some point.
Most long-term asthma studies test patients treated by specialists at academic
medical centers, a group likely to have more severe asthma.
The study was reported in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine. It was
led by Dr. Malcolm R. Sears, former professor of medicine at University of
Otago in New Zealand. He is now at McMaster University in Canada.
It found that the risk of an asthma relapse by age 26 rose steadily the
earlier the wheezing began. Those whose asthma began 10 years earlier than
others were 69 percent more likely to have a relapse by 26.
Dunedin is a university town of about 100,000, mostly residential and with
little pollution, on the southern part of New Zealand's South Island.
Asthma cases in the United States jumped from 31,400 people per 1 million
residents in 1980 to 38,400 per million in 1999, according to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma deaths also rose during that time, from
14.4 to 17.2 per 1 million people.
Among the theories given for the increase: Cleaner households and wider use of
soap and antibacterial products have reduced the number of germs children are
exposed to; as a result, their immune systems are more sensitive to
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