Age at asthma diagnosis is related to prevalence and characteristics of asthma symptoms

Hanna Hisinger-Mölkänen, Jasmin Honkamäki, Hannu Kankaanranta, Leena Tuomisto, Helena Backman, Heidi Andersen, Ari Lindqvist, Lauri Lehtimäki, Anssi Sovijärvi, Eva Rönmark, Paula Pallasaho, Pinja Ilmarinen, Päivi Piirilä

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Background: Although asthma may begin at any age, knowledge about relationship between asthma age of onset and the prevalence and character of different symptoms is scarce. Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate if adult-diagnosed asthma is associated with more symptoms and different symptom profiles than child-diagnosed asthma. Methods: A FinEsS postal survey was conducted in a random sample of 16 000 20-69-year-old Finnish adults in 2016. Those reporting physician-diagnosed asthma and age at asthma diagnosis were included. Age 18 years was chosen to delineate child- and adult-diagnosed asthma. Results: Of responders (N = 8199, 51.5%), 842 (10.3%) reported asthma diagnosis. Adult-diagnosed asthma was reported by 499 (59.3%) and child-diagnosed by 343 (40.7%). Of responders with adult-diagnosed and child-diagnosed asthma, 81.8% versus 60.6% used asthma medication (p < 0.001), respectively. Current asthma was also more prevalent in adult-diagnosed asthma (89.2% versus 72.0%, p < 0.001). Risk factors of attacks of breathlessness during the last 12 months were adult-diagnosis (OR = 2.41, 95% CI 1.64–3.54, p < 0.001), female gender (OR = 1.49, 1.07–2.08, p = 0.018), family history of asthma (OR = 1.48, 1.07–2.04, p = 0.018) and allergic rhinitis (OR = 1.49, 1.07–2.09, p = 0.019). All the analysed asthma symptoms, except dyspnea in exercise, were more prevalent in adult-diagnosed asthma in age- and gender-adjusted analyses (p = 0.032-<0.001) which was also more often associated with 5 or more asthma symptoms (p < 0.001) and less often with non-symptomatic appearance (p < 0.001) than child-diagnosed asthma. Conclusion: Responders with adult-diagnosed asthma had more often current asthma and a higher and multiform asthma symptom burden, although they used asthma medication more often compared to responders with child-diagnosed asthma.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100675
Number of pages15
JournalWorld Allergy Organization Journal
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Age of onset
  • Asthma
  • Late-onset
  • Population study
  • Symptom

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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