An increased asthma risk continued until young adulthood after early-childhood hospitalisation for wheezing

Marja Ruotsalainen, Paula Heikkilä, Katri Backman, Matti Korppi

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Aim: The aim of this cohort study was to evaluate doctor-diagnosed and self-reported asthma in young adults after early-childhood hospitalisation for wheezing. Methods: In this prospective-controlled follow-up, questionnaires were sent to 95 subjects aged 24–28 years, who had been hospitalised for their first episodes of wheezing under 24 months of age. Fifty-eight cases and 100 controls returned the questionnaires. Results: The risk of doctor-diagnosed asthma was 2.14-fold (95% confidence interval 0.61–7.41), and the risk of self-reported asthma 2.39-fold (1.14–4.99) in cases compared to controls. The increased risk of self-reported asthma remained as statistically significant in analyses adjusted for current smoking, overweight and allergic rhinitis. Study subjects presented with wheezing symptoms, use of bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids, and with seasonal symptoms presumptive for allergic rhinitis during the last 12 months, more often than controls. The identification of a respiratory syncytial virus or rhinovirus during hospitalisation in early childhood was not anymore associated with asthma risk in adulthood. As expected, previous asthma during early childhood was a strong risk factor for asthma in young adulthood. Conclusion: In this controlled questionnaire study, early-childhood hospitalisation for lower respiratory infection with wheezing was an independently significant risk factor of asthma in young adults.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Paediatrica
Issue number1
Early online dateSep 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • adulthood asthma
  • bronchiolitis
  • early-life wheezing
  • prospective design
  • questionnaire study

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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