Children with asthma-like symptoms had double the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) later in life compared to their peers without asthma-like symptoms, according to study results published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The presence of asthma-like symptoms during childhood, classified as asthma, bronchitis, bronchial asthma and bronchial or tracheal disorders, as well as eventual COPD diagnosis rates in adulthood, were analyzed as part of a population-based cohort of women who gave birth in Copenhagen, Denmark between 1959 and 1961. The children were examined, and mothers were interviewed by physicians at ages 1 day, 5 days, 1 year, 3 years and 6 years. A part of the cohort has been followed up in adult life and included in this study.

Of the 3290 children included in the analysis, 825 children (25.1%) had asthma-like symptoms at some point during the first 6 years of life. More than 60% of these children had asthma-like symptoms at only 1 time point of follow-up and approximately 10% had asthma-like symptoms at all 3 time points up to age 6.. Asthma-like symptoms early in life were associated with a higher risk of hospital admission with a diagnosis of COPD with an adjusted hazard ratio of 1.88. Furthermore, the number of time points with asthma-like symptoms in childhood implied a “dose-response” relationship with the highest risk seen in children with symptoms at all 3 time points with respect to asthma hospitalization, COPD medication, and any controller medication, but not COPD hospitalization.

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Based on their findings, the researchers wrote that early life may be an important time for an intervention to reduce the risk of COPD.


Bisgaard H, Nørgaard S, Sevelsted A, et al. Asthma-like symptoms in young children increase the risk of COPD [published online June 12, 2020]. J Allergy Clin Immunol. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2020.05.043