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Asthma is the most common long-lasting (chronic) disease of childhood. It usually develops before age 5.1 Many children who have allergies get asthma, but not all. And not every child with asthma has allergies.
In most cases of persistent asthma, the first symptoms (such as wheezing) start in the first years of life. One study notes that about 25% of children with persistent asthma began wheezing before 6 months of age and about 75% began wheezing by 3 years of age.2
Early infection with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) that causes a lower respiratory infection is a risk factor for wheezing.2 But other research shows that upper respiratory infections that do not progress to lower respiratory infections may protect a child from developing asthma.2
If your child has persistent asthma, he or she may have:
It is likely that your child will not develop asthma even if he or she wheezes as an infant.
It is also hard to predict whether your child's asthma will continue into the teen years or adulthood.
CitationsCovar RA, et al. (2012). Allergic disorders. In WW Hay Jr et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 21st ed., pp. 1123–1157.Guilbert T, Krawiec M (2003). Natural history of asthma. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 50(3): 524–538.Wood RA (2002). Pediatric Asthma. JAMA, 288(6): 745–747.Martinez FD (2002). Development of wheezing disorders and asthma in preschool children. Pediatrics, 109(2): 362–367.
Last Revised: March 17, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Lora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and Immunology
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