Background: Respiratory symptoms are common in early childhood. The clinical characterization of disease presentation and hence its likely disease progression has so far been proven difficult.
Objective: To investigate whether exhaled nitric oxide (NO) could be helpful to distinguish between subgroups of nonwheezy and wheezy young children less than 4 years of age.
Methods: Exhaled NO was measured in 391 children (age 3-47 months) with nonwheezy and wheezy respiratory symptoms. Children were divided into 3 groups: children with recurrent cough but no history of wheeze (group 1), with early recurrent wheeze and a loose index for the prediction of asthma at school age (group 2), and with frequent recurrent wheeze and a stringent index for the prediction of asthma at school age (group 3).
Results: Children from group 3 showed significantly higher median (interquartile range) fractional exhaled NO (FeNO) levels (11.7 [11.85]) than children from groups 1 (6.5 [5.5]; P < .001) and 2 (6.4 [6.5]; P < .001). No difference in FeNO levels was found between children from groups 1 and 2 (P = .91).
Conclusion: Wheezy young children less than 4 years of age with a stringent index for the prediction of asthma at school age have elevated levels of FeNO compared with children with recurrent wheeze and a loose index for the prediction of asthma at school age or children with recurrent cough.