How Asthma Develops in Children - Topic Overview
Asthma is the most common long-lasting
(chronic) disease of childhood. It usually develops before age 5.1 Many children who have allergies get asthma, but not all. And not
every child with asthma has allergies.
In most cases of persistent
asthma, the first symptoms (such as
wheezing) start in the first years of life. One study
notes that about 25 out of 100 children with persistent asthma began wheezing before 6
months of age and about 75 out of 100 began wheezing by 3 years of age.2
Early infection with
respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) that causes a lower
respiratory infection is a risk factor for wheezing.2
But other research shows that upper respiratory infections that do not
progress to lower respiratory infections may protect a child from developing
If your child has persistent
asthma, he or she may have:
- Developed symptoms before age 3.
allergies in infancy and childhood.
- A family history of
- Wheezing when there is no viral
- Recurrent asthma attacks associated with viral
- Wheezing severe enough to require
a hospital stay.
Asthma as your child grows
It is likely that your
child will not develop asthma even if he or she wheezes as an infant.
- About 15 out of 100 infants who wheeze develop
persistent wheezing and asthma.2
- About 60 out
of 100 infants who wheeze no longer wheeze by age 6.2
- About 50 out of 100 preschool-age children who wheeze
have persistent asthma later in childhood.3
It is also hard to predict whether your child's asthma
will continue into the teen years or adulthood.
- In most cases of intermittent asthma associated
with respiratory infections (rather than allergies), symptoms tend to become
less severe and may go away by the teen years.
- Asthma seems to continue into the teen years in
children who have moderate to severe asthma. If your child has moderate to severe asthma,
he or she may have asthma as an adult.1