The therapy of pre-school wheeze: appropriate and fair?

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2006 Sep;41(9):829-38. doi: 10.1002/ppul.20450.


The current study aimed to assess prevalence and distribution of use of asthma medication for wheeze in pre-school children in the community. We sent a postal questionnaire to the parents of a random population-based sample of 4,277 UK children aged 1-5 years; 3,410 participated (children of south Asian decent were deliberately over-represented). During the previous 12 months, 18% of the children were reported to have received bronchodilators, 8% inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) and 3% oral corticosteroids. Among current wheezers these proportions were 55%, 25%, and 12%, respectively. Use of ICS increased with reported severity of wheeze, but did not reach 60% even in the most severe category. In contrast, 42% of children receiving ICS reported no or very infrequent recent wheeze. Among children with the episodic viral wheeze phenotype, 17% received ICS compared with 40% among multiple-trigger wheezers. Use of ICS by current wheezers was less common in children of South Asian ethnicity and in girls. Although a high proportion of pre-school children in the community used asthma inhalers, treatment seemed to be insufficiently adjusted to severity or phenotype of wheeze, with relative under-treatment of severe wheeze with ICS, especially in girls and South Asian children, but apparent over-treatment of mild and episodic viral wheeze and chronic cough.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Respiratory Sounds*


  • Bronchodilator Agents