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Repeated preschool wheeze may set the stage for long-term damage in lung function
Date:5/7/2014

This news release is available in French.

Children who wheeze are at risk of developing damage that will affect their lung function by the age of 6 years, according to researchers at CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital and the University of Montreal. These appear to be persistent, even if asthma symptoms seem to disappear at least temporarily by school age in several cases. Children with recurrent symptoms that are severe enough to warrant a visit to the emergency department are particularly at risk of seeing their lung function affected. This may persist in adulthood and into their forties, even if they have gone through a period of asthma remission during their childhood or adolescence. Preschool wheezing could be a risk factor for to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The findings were published in The Lancet by researchers and pediatricians Drs. Francine M. Ducharme and Sze Man Tse following a review of the outcomes of clinical studies undertaken on preschoolers over close to 25 years. Wheezing is a symptom characterized by a whistling sound when breathing and it affects 20% to 25% of Canadian children under 6 years of age. Under-sixes visit the emergency three times more than all other age groups, resulting in at least one yearly emergency department visit for 2%-4% of them, a sizable number of whom will subsequently be admitted to hospital.

"Repeated wheezing is most often caused by asthma. However, the diagnosis is challenging because before 6 years of age, children are too young to go through the standard confirmatory lung-function test spirometry," says Dr. Ducharme. "Yet the period before six years of age is clearly a period of increased vulnerability and is probably the best time to intervene and possibly prevent lasting damage."

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Contact: William Raillant-Clark
rw.raillantclark@gmail.com
514-566-3813
University of Montreal
Source:Eurekalert

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