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New data show that, by 6 years of age, patterns of wheezing and weakened lung function in children with asthma symptoms may be firmly established. Reporting in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (November 2005), researchers have found that these patterns do not change dramatically for at least a decade.
For the study, the children were classified into 4 types of wheezers. Of the 826 patients, 425 were "never wheezers," 164 were "transient early wheezers," 113 were "persistent wheezers," and 124 were "late-onset wheezers." The researchers conducted follow-ups at ages 8, 11, 13, and 16 years.
The findings indicated that >75% of the "never wheezers" and "transient early wheezers" reported no wheezing between 8 and 16 years. Of the children in the 2 groups that reported wheezing, most experienced only infrequent episodes.
"As we published in an earlier paper, transient early wheezers start life with levels of lung function that are significantly lower than those of children who had no wheezing episodes during the first 6 years of life," said researcher Fernando D. Martinez, MD.