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Home > Wellness > Health Library > How Asthma Develops in Children
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% of children with persistent asthma began wheezing before 6
months of age and about 75% 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
If your child has persistent
asthma, he or she may have:
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.
Covar RA, et al. (2012). Allergic disorders. In WW Hay Jr et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Pediatrics, 21st ed., pp. 1123–1157.
Guilbert T, Krawiec M (2003). Natural history of asthma. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 50(3): 524–538.
Wood RA (2002). Pediatric Asthma. JAMA, 288(6): 745–747.
Martinez FD (2002). Development of wheezing disorders and asthma in preschool children. Pediatrics, 109(2): 362–367.
March 17, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Lora J. Stewart, MD - Allergy and Immunology
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