Asthma-like symptoms in young children increase the risk of COPD

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Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may originate in early life and share disease mechanisms with asthma-like symptoms in early childhood. This possibility remains unexplored on account of the lack of long-term prospective studies from infancy to the onset of COPD. Objective: We aimed to investigate the relationship between asthma-like symptoms in young children and development of COPD. Methods: In a population-based cohort of women who gave birth at the central hospital in Copenhagen during period from 1959 to 1961, we investigated data from 3290 mother-child pairs who attended examinations during pregnancy and when the children were aged 1, 3, and 6 years. COPD was assessed from the Danish national registries on hospitalizations and prescription medication since 1994. A subgroup of 930 individuals underwent spirometry testing at age 50 years. Results: Of the 3290 children, 1 in 4 had a history of asthma-like symptoms in early childhood. The adjusted hazard ratio for hospitalization for COPD was 1.88 (95% CI = 1.32-2.68), and the odds ratio for prescription of long-acting muscarinic antagonists was 2.27 (95% CI = 1.38-3.70). Asthma-like symptoms in early childhood were also associated with a reduced FEV1 percent predicted and an FEV1-to–forced vital capacity ratio at age 50 years (–3.36% [95% CI = –5.47 to –1.24] and –1.28 [95% CI = –2.17 to –0.38], respectively) and with COPD defined according to Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease stage higher than 1 (odds ratio = 1.96 [95% CI = 1.13-3.34]). Conclusion: This 60-year prospective follow-up of a mother-child cohort demonstrated a doubled risk for COPD from childhood asthma-like symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)569-576
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Asthma, cohort study, COPD

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