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Pneumonia in Early Childhood Tied to Higher Odds of Asthma

´╗┐Pneumonia in Early Childhood Tied to Higher Odds of Asthma

Early Child Pneumonia Tied to Higher Asthma Odds

Lung problems before age 3 may have enduring impact, study says

FRIDAY, March 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Children who contract pneumonia during the first three years of life appear to face a higher risk of developing asthma, new research suggests.

These findings raise concern that early childhood respiratory problems may have an enduring and negative impact on growing lungs.

"This supports the idea that the roots of chronic illness in adult life may be the events that occur in early life," said study co-author Dr. Fernando Martinez, a professor of pediatrics and director of the Arizona Respiratory Center at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

"Early life is a time when organs are developing very fast, and can be affected and altered by outside stimuli or negative events, which may then carry into adulthood," he said.

"So here," added Martinez, "we have shown that when you have a severe episode of pneumonia in early life there are consequences, such as lower levels of lung function and respiratory symptoms."

However, the authors also pointed out that this study can't prove that the early pneumonia definitively caused asthma or later impaired lung function. It's possible that children who developed pneumonia may have already had impaired lung function that made them more susceptible to getting pneumonia, according to the study.

Martinez and his colleagues discuss their findings in the April issue of Pediatrics.

About 25 million Americans have asthma, including as many as 7 million children, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

For the study, the authors focused on nearly 1,250 men and women born between 1980 and 1984. From birth, all were enrolled in the ongoing Tucson Children's Respiratory Study.

All instances of lower respiratory illness were recorded during the first three years of life. After that period, the children were divided into three groups: those who had pneumonia in that time frame, those who experienced another type of respiratory issue, and those who had neither.

In addition, asthma questionnaires were completed by parents until the children reached the age of 16, and then by the participants themselves from ages 16 through 29.

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