Long term prognosis in preschool children with wheeze: longitudinal postal questionnaire study 1993-2004

BMJ. 2008 Jun 21;336(7658):1423-6. doi: 10.1136/bmj.39568.623750.BE. Epub 2008 Jun 16.


Objectives: To follow a population of preschool children with and without parent reported wheeze over a period of 6-11 years to determine prognosis and its important predictive factors.

Design: Longitudinal series of five postal surveys based on the international study of asthma and allergies in childhood questionnaire carried out between 1993 and 2004.

Setting: Two general practice populations, south Manchester.

Participants: 628 children aged less than 5 years at recruitment and those with at least six years' follow-up data.

Main outcome measures: Parent completed questionnaire data for respiratory symptoms and associated features.

Results: Of 628 children included in the study, 201 (32%) had parent reported wheeze at the first observation (baseline), of whom 27% also reported the symptom on the second occasion (persistent asthma). The only important baseline predictors of persistent asthma were exercise induced wheeze (odds ratio 3.94, 95% confidence interval 1.72 to 9.00) and a history of atopic disorders (4.44, 1.94 to 10.13). The presence of both predictors indicated a likelihood of 53.2% of developing asthma; if only one feature was present this decreased to 17.2%, whereas if neither was present the likelihood was 10.9%. Family history of asthma was not predictive of persistent asthma among children with preschool wheeze.

Conclusion: Using two simple predictive factors (baseline parent reported exercise induced wheeze and a history of atopic disorders), it is possible to estimate the likelihood of future asthma in children presenting with preschool wheeze. The absence of baseline exercise induced wheeze and a history of atopic disorders reduces the likelihood of subsequent asthma by a factor of five.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • England / epidemiology
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Sounds*