I get the question frequently from parents of babies and toddlers with wheezing—“Is this a sign of asthma? Is there any way to predict if the wheezing will go away? How long will we have to stay on medication?”
Known risk factors for the development of asthma are
- Having a parent who has asthma
- A history of viral wheezing in early childhood, and
- Gender may also have an effect, as boys are more likely to have problems than girls at an early age.
I’ve been closely following current research from the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study. In this study, my colleagues have been monitoring children from birth and it seems they may be able to identify those at risk of asthma by pinpointing their childhood allergies.
In this study, a total of almost 500 children were tested at ages 1, 2, 3, and 4 to common indoor allergens (cat, dog, dust mites, and cockroach). Kids in the study with increasing allergies to cat and dust mites year after year were more likely to have asthma developed by age 7. Other allergens didn’t seem to make much difference in asthma risk.
Looking for the Signs of Asthma
When I’m talking to families, I always ask questions about eczema and parental history, and routinely do allergy testing in young children with a history of wheezing. This study confirms that we’re on the right track. Hopefully, soon there will be even more information about how we can predict asthma at a young age and reassure those families with negative testing that the wheezing may only be temporary.