MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Meghan B. Azad PhD
Assistant Professor Department of Pediatrics & Child Health and Community Health Sciences University of Manitoba and
Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba
Associate Investigator, Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study
Medical Research: What is the background for this study?
Dr. Azad: Asthma is the most common reason for children to miss school or be admitted to hospital, and accounts for over 30% of Canadian healthcare billings for children. Although many treatments exist to manage asthma symptoms, it is a lifelong disease and there is no cure. Prevention is the best approach to reduce the global burden of asthma, and our study provides important new information to inform asthma prevention strategies.
Medical Research: What are the main findings?
Dr. Azad: Wheezing is common in babies and young children. Our study looked at the long-term implications of wheezing in early life, using data from the Canadian Asthma Primary Prevention Study (CAPPS).
We followed 320 children from Winnipeg and Vancouver from before birth until adolescence, and found that specific patterns of early wheezing (from age 0 to 7) were associated with decreased lung function and increased risk for asthma by age 15.
By age 15, children who wheezed consistently through infancy and early childhood had the worst lung function (9% lower compared to non-wheezers) and the highest asthma risk (11 times higher). Even children with “transient early wheeze” (those who wheezed as babies but not as young children) had reduced lung function (5% lower) and increased asthma risk (4 times higher) as teenagers.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Azad: Our research shows that asthma-associated deficits in lung function are already present at a very young age, suggesting that interventions to reduce early-life wheezing could have significant long-term health benefits.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Azad: Future research should focus on early life as a critical period of development for lung health. It is important to identify and study the factors that cause wheezing in infants and young children. By understanding this process, we can design better asthma prevention strategies. This is the goal of the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study (www.canadianchildstudy.ca), where we are following a new group of 3500 children from birth through early childhood.
Azad MB, Chan-Yeung M, Chan ES, et al. Wheezing Patterns in Early Childhood and the Risk of Respiratory and Allergic Disease in Adolescence. JAMA Pediatr. Published online February 08, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.4127.
Dr. Meghan B. Azad PhD (2016). Wheezing in Early Childhood Linked to Reduced Lung Function By Adolescence
The study was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network (AllerGen NCE).