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Children with bronchitis may develop lung difficulties as adults: Study

by Pragati Singh

Bronchitis in early infancy has been found to raise the risk of lung disorders in middle age, according to research from the Allergy and Lung Health Unit at the University of Melbourne.

Researchers discovered that children in Australia who experienced bronchitis at least once before the age of seven were more likely to have lung issues later in life. The findings were reported in the British Medical Journal.

They also discovered that at the age of 53, the children’s lung problems were mainly asthma and pneumonia, rather than chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Dr Jennifer Perret, lead author of a report published today in the journal BMJ Open Respiratory Research, said the findings originate from one of the world’s oldest surveys, the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study, which monitored 8,583 persons born in Tasmania between 1961 and 1968.

“This is the first long-term prospective study to look at the link between childhood bronchitis severity and adult lung health outcomes. We’ve already seen that children with chronic bacterial bronchitis are more likely to develop serious chronic infective lung disease after two to five years, so studies like ours are documenting the potential for symptomatic children to develop lung conditions like asthma and lung function changes up to mid-adulthood ,” she stated.

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By assessing the initial participants when they entered the study, researchers established the association between childhood bronchitis and adult lung problems. Participants were subsequently followed for an average of 46 years, with 42% completing another questionnaire between 2012 and 2016, which included doctor-diagnosed lung problems and a clinical examination.

They discovered that the more frequently a person was identified as having pneumonia and asthma, the more probable the subject experienced bronchitis as a youngster.

According to Dr. Perret, the numbers in the most severe subgroup were tiny (only 42 people were in this category, and only 14 of them had ongoing asthma in middle age), but the patterns throughout bronchitis severity levels were substantial.

“In comparison to the majority of people who had never experienced bronchitis, there was an incremental increase in risk for later asthma and pneumonia that became stronger the more frequently a person had bronchitis as a kid, and especially if they had recurring episodes that lasted at least one month.

“It is noteworthy that the link with later adult active asthma was observed in participants who did not have co-existing asthma or wheezing in childhood, and a similar finding was recently seen in a very large meta-analysis of school-aged children who had a lower respiratory tract infection during early childhood.”

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