Kids' Asthma More Likely to Linger With Pet Allergies

July 30, 2013

By Kathryn Doyle

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jul 30 - Severe asthma in childhood, or childhood asthma in combination with allergies to furry animals, may signal asthma that will persist into young adulthood, a new study suggests.

Swedish researchers followed seven- and eight-year-olds with asthma through their teens. Among those with the combination of severe asthma and animal allergies as kids, 82% still had asthma at age 19.

"Asthma is a dynamic condition which often remits but also frequently relapses," said lead author Dr. Martin Andersson of The OLIN Studies, Norrbotten County Council in Lulea, Sweden.

Risk factors for asthma are complex and make it hard to predict which kids will still have problems years later, Dr. Andersson told Reuters Health. As with previous research, the new study found that girls were less likely to "outgrow" asthma.

However, the link between childhood allergies to furred animals and persistent asthma later in life had not been seen in previous studies, Dr. Andersson said.

To look for factors that might indicate whether a child's asthma is likely to linger, the researchers surveyed parents of 248 Swedish children ages seven and eight with asthma in 1996, and checked back in with the parents every year until the kids turned 19.

By the time they were teens, 205 kids remained in the study and 43 of them, or one in five, were in remission, i.e., at least three years without wheezing or medication.

At age 19, according to the report July 29 in Pediatrics, 84 kids had persistent asthma (i.e., presently and in at least eight of the nine previous surveys) and 78 had periodic asthma.

Overall, being male and not having animal allergies or severe asthma as a child were linked with more than doubled odds of remission.

Other factors, such as having parents with asthma, living in damp or rural homes and parental smoking, did not appear to affect the likelihood that childhood asthma would go away.

But other researchers have found a link between parents with asthma and their kids' risk for the condition, said Dr. John Burgess, the author of one of those studies.

"The jury is still out on that one," Dr. Burgess, who studies childhood allergies and asthma at the University of Melbourne in Australia, told Reuters Health by email.

Still, the new study's other results are interesting and appear to be consistent with most findings in the field, he said.

Parents of kids with asthma need to know that the condition often goes away, but there is no guarantee that it will, Burgess said.

"Asthma accompanied by allergies in childhood is a more difficult problem," he added.

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/1e6L6wc

Pediatrics 2013.

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