May 24, 2012

Infant Viral Infections Not Linked To Childhood Wheezing

(Ivanhoe Newswire)–There´s apparently no link between the number of viral infections during infancy and wheezing later in childhood. A new study from researchers in the Netherlands concluded that while viral illnesses with wheezing in infancy predicted wheezing later in childhood, this association was due in part to decreased neonatal lung function.

"Viral infections in infancy, particularly rhinovirus, are thought to be a risk factor for later asthma development, but it is unclear whether this association is due to the viruses themselves or whether rhinovirus-associated wheeze is merely an indicator of disease susceptibility," Anne van der Gugten, M.D., a researcher at the University Medical Center Utrecht was quoted as saying. "Accordingly, we examined the association between viruses during the first year of life independent of symptoms and the subsequent development of wheezing symptoms in childhood."

In a population-based birth cohort study, 96 children were followed from infancy until age four. Neither the number of human rhinovirus (HRV) infections in infancy nor the number of viral infections in general were associated with an increased risk of wheezing at age four. Although a higher number of viral episodes with wheezing or a higher number of HRV episodes with wheezing was associated with an increased risk of wheezing at age four, researchers say the associations were not significant after adjustment for neonatal lung function.

"A number of prospective studies in high-risk cohorts have shown that viral wheezing illnesses, especially those caused by rhinovirus, are the most important predictors of the subsequent development of wheezing or asthma in childhood," Dr. van der Gugten was quoted as saying, "but it is unclear if rhinovirus is causally related to the development of asthma.Our findings indicate that viral infections by themselves may not be associated with the development of asthma, but that children with reduced neonatal lung function are prone to experience wheezing during viral infections in infancy and to have asthma in childhood."

Source: American Thoracic Society, May 2012.