Monday, December 05, 2022

Children who had bronchitis linked to adult lung problem: Long-term consequences of childhood infections explained

Bronchitis in childhood has been found to increase the risk of lung diseases in middle age, according to research from the Allergy and Lung Health Unit at the University of Melbourne.

Researchers found that Australian children who had had bronchitis at least once before the age of seven were more likely to develop lung problems in later life.

They also established that the lung diseases most commonly encountered in children by the time they reached the age of 53 were usually asthma and pneumonia, not chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Dr Jennifer Perrett, lead author of a paper published today in the BMJ Open Respiratory Research journal, said the findings came from one of the world’s oldest surveys, the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study, which looked at 8,583 people who were born in Tasmania in 1961 and started school in 1968.

“This is the first long-term prospective study that has examined the relationship between childhood bronchitis severity with adult lung health outcomes. We have already seen that children with chronic bacterial bronchitis have two to five subsequent severe chronic infectious lung diseases. The risk of disease increases for years, so studies like ours have been documenting the potential for symptomatic children to develop lung conditions, such as asthma and changes in lung function, by mid-adult life,” she said.

Researchers established a link between childhood bronchitis and adult lung disease by surveying the original participants when they joined the study. The participants were then tracked for an average of 46 years, with 42 percent completing another questionnaire, including a doctor-diagnosed lung condition and clinical exam, between 2012 and 2016.

By categorizing participants into groups based on the number and duration of episodes of “bronchitis” and/or “loose, strong or chesty cough”, they found that the more often a participant was diagnosed by a doctor as having pneumonia and asthma. , the more likely that the participant had bronchitis as a child.

Dr Perrett said the numbers were low in the most severe subgroup (there were only 42 participants in this category and of these, only 14 had current asthma in middle age), but the trends in the bronchitis severity categories were significant.

“Compared to the vast majority of people who never had bronchitis, the latter were at increased risk for asthma and pneumonia, which made a person who suffered from bronchitis as a child more frequent, and especially if they had recurrent There were episodes that were prolonged over a period of at least one month.

“It is noteworthy that the link with later adult active asthma was observed for participants who did not co-exist or wheeze in childhood, and a similar finding was recently found in a much larger meta-analysis of school-aged children. seen in the analysis. There was a lower respiratory tract infection in childhood.”

The researchers hope the study will help doctors identify children who may benefit from more careful monitoring and earlier interventions to keep them in better health through mid-adult life.

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material provided by University of Melbourne, Note: Content can be edited for style and length.

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