Babies Who Wheeze Don’t Have To Develop Asthma

Researchers at the University of Bristol have discovered that not all babies who wheeze will develop asthma in later life.

Dr Andrea Sherriff and asthma experts from the Institute of Child Health in Bristol and St George`s Hospital Medical School in London studied around 10,000 children taking part in the Children of the 90s project in Bristol.

The researchers discovered that over 60% of babies who wheezed in the first six months had stopped by 3½ years of age. When they were compared to babies who did not wheeze, they were smaller at birth and were more likely to have one or both parents who smoked. The researchers believe that these babies would have smaller lungs and narrower airways when they were born, which would cause them to wheeze particularly when they had a cold or chest infection. However as they get older and grow bigger, their lungs and airways would develop normally and the majority of them would stop wheezing.

On the other hand, there was a small proportion of children, who as babies did not wheeze, but then started wheezing around three years of age. These children may be at a greater risk of developing asthma – as their parents were more likely to have asthma and many of them were already showing signs of eczema and allergies – which are known to be linked to asthma in older children and adults.

Asthma in children is increasing and very little is known about why this is the case. By studying the health of very young children and their parents and linking this to what we know about their lifestyles and environments – as well as their genes – we may begin to understand why so many more children these days suffer from this disturbing illness.

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