The relationship between infant lung function and the risk of wheeze in the preschool years

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2011 Jan;46(1):75-82. doi: 10.1002/ppul.21327. Epub 2010 Sep 16.


Rationale: There is evidence that perinatal lung development predicts childhood wheeze. However, very few studies have examined whether preschool wheeze is associated with lower premorbid lung function in early infancy, and as yet there is no information relating atopic and non-atopic preschool wheeze to early lung development.

Objective: To examine the association between premorbid infant lung function and preschool wheeze, and to explore associations with atopic and non-atopic wheeze phenotypes.

Methods: Infant lung function was measured in 147 healthy term infants aged 5-14 weeks. Rapid thoracoabdominal compression was performed during tidal breathing and at raised volume to measure maximal expiratory flow at functional residual capacity (V' max FRC) and forced expiratory volume in 0.4 sec (FEV(0.4)). Atopic status was determined by skin prick testing at 3 years and wheeze ascertained from parental questionnaires (1 and 3 years).

Measurements and main results: Lower early infancy V' max FRC was associated with wheeze in both the first and third years of life (P=0.002 and 0.006, respectively). Lower early infancy FEV(0.4) was associated with wheeze in the first year (P=0.03). Compared to non-atopic children who did not wheeze, non-atopic children who wheezed in their third year of life had lower FEV(0.4) (P=0.02), while FEV(0.4) values of atopic children who wheezed were not significantly different (P=0.4).

Conclusions: Lower premorbid infant lung function was present in infants who subsequently wheezed during the first and third years of life. Lower FEV(0.4) in early infancy was associated with non-atopic wheeze but not atopic wheeze at 3 years of age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Birth Weight
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lung / growth & development
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Respiratory Sounds / physiopathology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Skin Tests
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology