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Children's Health: Common cold a factor in kids' asthma development

Infants who have wheezing illnesses related to a cold virus should be followed up carefully

Young children who develop persistent wheezing as a result of a respiratory infection — particularly the common cold — may be at higher risk of developing asthma by the time they reach school age.

That’s the conclusion from the Childhood Origins of Asthma project, a study of nearly 300 children whom researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison began tracking from before birth. All children had at least one parent with a confirmed allergy and/or asthma, which put them at higher risk for developing these conditions themselves.

The 41 children who wheezed as a result of a cold in their first year of life were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with asthma at age six (54 per cent) than the 214 who did not (23 per cent). In total, 75 per cent of children who were still wheezing at age three, regardless of the cause, went on to develop asthma.

The finding suggests that when children have wheezing illnesses known to be caused by a cold virus, they should be followed carefully for the development of asthma, says Dr. Robert Lemanske, the study’s principal investigator and a professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.