Background An increased prevalence of asthma/recurrent wheeze (RW), clinical allergy and allergic sensitisation up to age 13 years has previously been reported in subjects hospitalised with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis in their first year of life compared with matched controls. A study was undertaken to examine whether these features persist into early adulthood, to report longitudinal wheeze and allergy patterns, and to see how large and small airway function relates to RSV infection and asthma.
Methods Follow-up at age 18 years was performed in 46 of 47 subjects with RSV and 92 of 93 controls. Assessments included questionnaire, clinical examination, skin prick tests, serum IgE antibodies to inhaled allergens, blood eosinophils, fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), spirometry, multiple breath washout (lung clearance index, LCI) and dry air hyperventilation challenge.
Results Increased prevalence of asthma/RW (39% vs 9%), clinical allergy (43% vs 17%) and sensitisation to perennial allergens (41% vs 14%) were present at age 18 in the RSV cohort compared with controls. Persistent/relapsing wheeze associated with early allergic sensitisation predominated in the RSV cohort compared with controls (30% vs 1%). Spirometric function was reduced in subjects with RSV with or without current asthma, but not in asthmatic controls. LCI was linked only to current asthma, airway hyperresponsiveness and FeNO.
Conclusions Severe early RSV bronchiolitis is associated with an increased prevalence of allergic asthma persisting into early adulthood. Small airway dysfunction (LCI) is related to current asthma and airway inflammation but not to RSV bronchiolitis. Reduced spirometry after RSV may reflect airway remodelling.
- lung clearance index
- allergic lung disease
- asthma mechanisms
- paediatric asthma
- respiratory measurement
- viral infection
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Funding The study was supported by grants from the Regional Health Care Authority of West Sweden, from Borås Hospital, the Fokus Foundation and SeBe's Fund.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Human Research Committee of the Medical Faculty at the University of Gothenburg. All parents and subjects gave consent to the study.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.