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Childhood infections and the risk of asthma: a longitudinal study over 37 years


Burgess, JA and Abramson, MJ and Gurrin, LC and Byrnes, GB and Matheson, MC and May, CL and Giles, GG and Johns, DP and Hopper, JL and Walters, EH and Dharmage, SC, Childhood infections and the risk of asthma: a longitudinal study over 37 years, Chest, 142, (3) pp. 647-654. ISSN 0012-3692 (2012) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2012 American College of Chest Physicians

DOI: doi:10.1378/chest.11-1432


Background: Few studies have examined common childhood infections and adult asthma. We examined associations between childhood infectious diseases, childhood pneumonia, and current, persisting, and incident asthma to middle age. Methods: We analyzed data from the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study (TAHS). A history of pneumonia was ascertained from their parents when the TAHS participants were 7 years old. Measles, rubella, mumps, chickenpox, diphtheria, and pertussis were identified from school medical records. Associations with current, persisting, or incident asthma were examined using regression techniques. Results: Greater infectious diseases load was negatively associated with persisting asthma at all ages. Individually, pertussis (adjusted OR [aOR], 0.53;95% CI, 0.28-1.00) was negatively associated with asthma persisting to age 13 years, chickenpox (aOR, 0.58;95% CI, 0.38-0.88) was negatively associated with asthma persisting to age 32 years, and rubella was negatively associated with asthma persisting to ages 32(aOR, 0.61;95% CI, 0.31-0.96) and 44 years (aOR 0.53;95% CI, 0.35-0.82). Pertussis was associated with preadolescent incident asthma(adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 1.80;95% CI, 1.10-2.96), whereas measles was associated with adolescent incident asthma (aHR, 1.66;1.06-2.56). Childhood pneumonia was associated with current asthma at ages 7(aOR, 3.12;95% CI, 2.61-3.75) and 13 years (aOR, 1.32;95% CI, 1.00-1.75), an association stronger in those without than those with eczema (aOR, 3.46;95% CI, 2.83-4.24 vs aOR, 2.08; 95% CI, 1.38-3.12). Conclusions: Overall, childhood infectious diseases protected against asthma persisting in later life, but pertussis and measles were associated with new-onset asthma after childhood. Measles and pertussis immunization might lead to a reduction in incident asthma in later life. © 2012 American College of Chest Physicians.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Cardiovascular medicine and haematology
Research Field:Respiratory diseases
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Clinical health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Johns, DP (Associate Professor David Johns)
UTAS Author:Walters, EH (Professor Haydn Walters)
ID Code:83054
Year Published:2012
Web of Science® Times Cited:24
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2013-02-28
Last Modified:2017-11-02

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