Washington, Oct 2 : Infants who wheeze while suffering from common cold are at a ten-fold risk of developing asthma in later life, say researchers.
The new study from University of Wisconsin has found that wheezing toddlers with most common cold virus are significantly more likely to become asthmatic.
"We have found that rhinovirus, the most common cause of colds, contributes a disproportionate amount towards future asthma development in comparison to other viruses that also cause childhood wheezing," said principle investigator, Robert F. Lemanske, Jr., M.D., head of the Division of Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Rheumatology and Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
For the study the researchers tracked 300 newborns at high risk for asthma (with one or both parents having had allergies or asthma from November 1998 to May 2000
The children were followed from birth to six years and evaluated for the presence of specific viruses during wheezing illnesses.
The researchers found that at six years, 28 percent of the kids had asthma- and those who had wheezed with rhinovirus were disproportionately among them.
Children who wheezed with RV during the first year of life were nearly three times as likely to have asthma at age six, whereas children who wheezed with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), another common respiratory ailment that has been linked to asthma risk in children, did not have an increased asthma risk.
Moreover, older the children, greater the effect. Children who had wheezed with RV in their second year of life were more than six times as likely to have asthma. Wheezing with RV at three increased asthma odds by more than 30-fold.
"Wheezing RV illnesses occurring at any time during the first three years of life were associated with a nearly 10-fold increase in asthma risk at six years, making them the most significant predictor of asthma development," wrote Daniel J. Jackson, M.D., Allergy and Immunology Fellow at the University of Wisconsin, lead author of the article.
"Indeed, nearly 90% of the children wheezing with RV during year three subsequently developed asthma at age six.
"In genetically susceptible children, RV wheezing illnesses could cause airway damage as well as subsequent asthma (virus-related factors)," he added.
The study appears in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.