The role of factors related to early wheezing and their associations with subsequent development of asthma are controversial. We reevaluated 81 children who had been prospectively followed up since hospitalization for wheezing at less than 2 years of age. The baseline data on characteristics of the children, family-related factors, and viral causes of wheezing were collected on entry into the study. At the median age of 12.3 years, current symptoms suggestive of asthma and allergy were recorded. As part of the clinical examination, an outdoor exercise challenge test and skin prick tests to common inhalant allergens were performed. Asthma, as indicated by current inhaled anti-inflammatory medication or repeated wheezing and positive result in the challenge test, was present in 32 (40%) children, and 90% of them were sensitized to at least one allergen. Early asthma-predictive factors were atopic dermatitis (odds ratio (OR), 3.5; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.2-10.1) and the presence of specific IgE to inhalant allergens (OR, 11.3; 95% CI, 1.9-67.6). Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) identification during wheezing in infancy was relatively rare (20%) among later asthmatics compared with other or no viral identification (52%) or rhinovirus identification (58%). Since the prevalence of childhood asthma in our area is 4.0-5.0%, we conclude that the increased risk of asthma persists until the teenage years after hospitalization for wheezing in infancy. The risk was about 5-fold after respiratory syncytial virus-induced wheezing, and more than 10-fold after rhinovirus-induced wheezing in the present study.
2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.