WEDNESDAY, Nov. 23, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Patterns of wheezing and impaired lung function in children with asthmatic symptoms may be firmly established by age 6, a new study suggests.
These patterns don't significantly change for at least 10 years, Arizona researchers report in the November issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The study included 826 children -- 425 were "never wheezers," 164 were "transient early wheezers," 113 were "persistent wheezers" and 124 were "late-onset wheezers." The children were followed up at ages 8, 11, 13 and 16 years.
"There was no significant change in lung function among subjects within either of the three different wheezing groups or the non-wheezing group studied, relative to their peers, from age 6 to 16 years," researcher Dr. Fernando D. Martinez of the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, said in a prepared statement.
More than 75 percent of the "never wheezers" and "transient early wheezers" reported no wheezing between ages 8 and 16. Among the children in those two groups who did report wheezing, most had only infrequent episodes, the study said.
"As we published in an earlier paper, transient early wheezers start life with levels of lung function that are significantly lower than those of children who had no wheezing episodes during the first six years of life," Martinez said.
"We now confirm that these children continue to have lower levels of lung function at ages 11 and 16 years, and that, relative to their peers, their levels of lung function remain stable during their school years," he said.
The American Lung Association has more about childhood asthma.