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How Asthma Develops in Children

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

Asthma is the most common long-lasting (chronic) disease of childhood. It usually develops before age 5.1 Many children who have allergies get asthma, but not all. And not every child with asthma has allergies.

In most cases of persistent asthma, the first symptoms (such as wheezing) start in the first years of life. One study notes that about 25 out of 100 children with persistent asthma began wheezing before 6 months of age and about 75 out of 100 began wheezing by 3 years of age.2

Early infection with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) that causes a lower respiratory infection is a risk factor for wheezing.2 But other research shows that upper respiratory infections that do not progress to lower respiratory infections may protect a child from developing asthma.2

If your child has persistent asthma, he or she may have:

Asthma as your child grows

It is likely that your child will not develop asthma even if he or she wheezes as an infant.

It is also hard to predict whether your child's asthma will continue into the teen years or adulthood.


References

Citations

  1. Covar RA, et al. (2014). Allergic disorders. In WW Hay Jr et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 22nd ed., pp. 1171–1206.
  2. Guilbert T, Krawiec M (2003). Natural history of asthma. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 50(3): 524–538.
  3. Wood RA (2002). Pediatric asthma. JAMA, 288(6): 745–747.

Credits for How Asthma Develops in Children

Current as of: October 26, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Lora J. Stewart MD - Allergy and Immunology


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