Prevalence of asthma-like symptoms in young children

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2007 Aug;42(8):723-8. doi: 10.1002/ppul.20644.


Objective: To determine the prevalence, impact, and treatment of asthma-like symptoms in preschool children in USA and Europe.

Study design: 7251 households in USA and Europe with at least one child aged 1-5 years were interviewed by telephone for recurrent days troubled by cough, wheeze or breathlessness during the recent 6 winter months.

Results: 9490 young children were identified, 32% of whom were reported to suffer from recurrent days with troublesome cough, wheeze or breathlessness. Detailed interview with the 2700 mothers of the symptomatic children showed that 24% of this interview population suffered weekly symptoms despite current treatment with considerable impact on lifestyle and healthcare resource use. Antibiotics, cough- and herbal-medications were the most commonly used treatments. Anti-asthmatic and anti-allergy agents were prescribed in the order: inhaled beta2-agonists > inhaled corticosteroid > oral anti-histamines > oral corticosteroids. The reported symptom burden was higher in Southern Europe and there were pronounced regional differences in treatment and diagnostic terms.

Conclusions: Recurrent days with cough, wheeze or breathlessness in preschool children represents a major cause of morbidity in preschool children despite current treatment. There is a striking lack of international consensus on diagnosis and treatment. This uncontrolled morbidity highlights a significant unmet clinical need in preschool children.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cough / epidemiology
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory Sounds
  • United States / epidemiology