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Asthma Often Does Not Go Away as Kids Get Older

By Will Boggs, MD

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Contrary to the commonly held view, asthma does not remit during adolescence in many cases, according to a new study.

"Complete remission of asthma in adolescence and adulthood is less common than commonly believed," lead author Dr. Stefano Guerra from the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, told Reuters Health.

"Our findings are consistent with those from other longitudinal cohorts showing that more severe asthma cases are the ones less likely to remit in adulthood," he added

Guerra and colleagues used data from the Tucson Children's Respiratory Study to look at the factors influencing persistence and remission of childhood asthma after puberty.

After an average of 4 years following the onset of puberty, 58 percent of children continued to have wheezing episodes, the authors report in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Higher amounts of wheezing, recurrent cough, rhinitis, and sinusitis before puberty were associated with persistent asthma symptoms after puberty, the team found.

Also, children with persistent wheezing had a significantly higher body-mass index (BMI) than did children whose asthma remitted, the researchers note.

"The implementation of correct dietary and activity patterns among children with and without asthma is very much needed," Guerra said.

Increasing evidence "suggests that obesity in childhood cannot be considered a transitory condition with little long-term consequences," he commented. "Disrupted dietary patterns are frequently 'inherited' into adult life, and obesity in childhood not only affects respiratory symptoms and lung function in children, but it could even increase their susceptibility to develop chronic respiratory diseases as adults."

SOURCE: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, July 1, 2004.

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