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Childhood Asthma Risk Tied to Infants' Winter Virus Exposure

Infant age at virus season peak comparable to other asthma risk factors

FRIDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- The length of time between an infant's birth and the winter virus season plays a role in that infant's risk of later developing early childhood asthma, according to a study published in the Dec. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Pingsheng Wu, M.D., of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn., and colleagues studied over 95,000 infants born between 1995 and 2000, and followed through 2005. The researchers used univariate and multivariable logistic regression models to analyze the relationship between infants' age at the winter virus peak and the risk of early childhood asthma.

The investigators found that infants born about four months before the winter virus peak had the highest risk of developing childhood asthma. These infants had a 29 percent increased risk when compared with infants born 12 months before the winter virus peak. Infant age at the peak was at least comparable to -- if not greater than -- other risk factors for developing asthma, the researchers report.

"While there are no known interventions to prevent asthma, this study suggests a possible intervention for families whose offspring have a very high risk of asthma because the risk of developing childhood asthma might be altered by delaying infant viral exposure until infants are 9 months of age or older through administration of a vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus and/or other winter viruses or respiratory syncytial virus immunoprophylaxis," the authors write.

Two co-authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

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