Thorax 57:388-392 doi:10.1136/thorax.57.5.388
  • Original articles

Lung function at one month of age as a risk factor for infant respiratory symptoms in a high risk population

  1. C S Murray,
  2. S D Pipis,
  3. E C McArdle,
  4. L A Lowe,
  5. A Custovic,
  6. A Woodcock,
  7. On Behalf Of The National Asthma Campaign Manchester Asthma Allergy Study Group
  1. North West Lung Centre, Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester M23 9LT, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor A Woodcock, North West Lung Centre, Wythenshawe Hospital, Southmoor Road, Manchester M23 9LT, UK;
  • Accepted 1 November 2001
  • Revised 25 September 2001


Background: Abnormal premorbid lung function is a risk factor for subsequent wheezing in children with one or no atopic parent. This study was undertaken to establish whether early lung function in high risk infants (both parents atopic) was a risk factor for respiratory symptoms in infancy and to examine the influence of maternal asthma, smoking, and allergen exposure during pregnancy on any association.

Methods: Infants were recruited from the NAC Manchester Asthma and Allergy Study cohort at birth. Partial forced expiratory flow volume technique under sedation was carried out to determine maximal flow at FRC (V′maxFRC). Children were followed prospectively and parents completed a standard respiratory questionnaire at one year of age.

Results: Sixty nine term infants (34 boys; 88% mothers non-smokers; no household pets) underwent respiratory function testing. Size adjusted V′maxFRC was significantly lower in infants who had recurrent wheeze during the first year of life (mean 1.3 ml/s/cm, 95% CI 0.99 to 1.60) than in those who did not (mean 2.03 ml/s/cm, 95% CI 1.71 to 2.36; p=0.01). V′maxFRC was also significantly lower in infants who had recurrent cough symptoms. In multivariate regression analysis, when adjusted for age at test, sex, maternal asthma, smoking and maternal mattress Der 1 levels, a lower size adjusted V′maxFRC score remained strongly associated with wheezing (OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.18 to 0.77, p=0.007). Maternal smoking also remained an independent risk factor (OR 29.85, 95% CI 2.46 to 362.5, p=0.008).

Conclusion: Significantly diminished lung function was present in high risk infants who subsequently wheezed and coughed. This was independent of maternal exposure to mite allergen, asthma, and smoking during pregnancy.