Wheezing With Colds Raises Risk of Asthma
Rhinovirus-Related Wheeze Big Risk Factor in Kids
WebMD News Archive
Oct. 1, 2008 -- Infants and toddlers who wheeze when they
are sick with colds have a big risk of developing asthma later in childhood, a new
Wheezing with rhinovirus infection during the first three years of life was
associated with a tenfold increase in asthma risk by age 6, researchers from
the University of Wisconsin report.
Nearly 90% of the children in the study who wheezed with rhinovirus
infection during their third year of life had a diagnosis of asthma three years later.
There are more than 100 identified rhinoviruses that are known to cause
colds, but until now, these viruses have not been strongly associated with
asthma risk, the study's principal investigator tells WebMD.
Instead, much attention has been focused on another common infectious agent,
known as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Young children who are hospitalized
with RSV infections have a high risk of developing asthma later in
"When we started this study we fully expected to find that RSV was the
big culprit, but that is not what we found," says Robert F. Lemanske Jr.,
Colds, Wheezing, and Asthma
Wheezing occurs as a result of airway narrowing, and it is characterized by
a whistling sound in the lungs during breathing.
As many as half of children will wheeze with respiratory illness at some
point during their first three years of life, but many of them will not go on
to develop asthma.
Early respiratory illness is a well-recognized risk factor for childhood asthma, but the
impact of specific respiratory viruses on the airway disorder is not well
In an effort to better understand the relationship between virus illness and
childhood asthma, Lemanske and colleagues closely followed 259 children from
birth through their sixth birthdays.
The children were considered at high risk for developing asthma because one
or both parents had asthma or respiratory allergy.
By age 6, 28% of the children had been diagnosed with asthma.
Children who wheezed while sick with colds during the first year of life
were three times more likely than children who did not wheeze while sick to
develop the respiratory disease.