Helsinki, Jan 3: Obese children with a history of early childhood wheezing, a breathing problem that results in a whistling or rattling sound in the chest, are at risk of facing reduced lung function as they grow up, a study has found.
“Weight control is especially important for children who have suffered from bronchiolitis in early childhood,” said Virpi Sidoroff at the University of Eastern Finland.
At the same time, the study showed that the use of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) for asthma in childhood may result in reduced bone mineral density (BMD) in early teen years. BMD is used in clinical medicine as an indirect indicator of osteoporosis and fracture risk.
“As to the use of inhaled corticosteroids, particular attention should be paid to using the lowest sufficient dose to maintain adequate asthma control,” said the researchers.
The researchers selected 100 children aged 1-23 months and hospitalised for wheezing to an early-intervention bronchiolitis study.
The study group later included 14 more children. At the age of four, seven, and 12 years, the participants were invited to follow-up visits consisting of medical examinations, weight and height measurements, skin prick tests for common allergens, and exercise challenge tests to show bronchial hyper-reactivity.
They found that at 12 years of age, over 38 percent of the participants were asthmatic and more than 33 percent were overweight while 20 percent were obese.
During follow-ups, 73 of the children received ICS medication. The results of the medication indicated that the use of ICS during childhood may reduce bone mineral density measured during early teenage years.
“The aim should be to use the lowest effective dosage of ICS, increasing the dosage only temporarily if symptoms get worse,” Sidoroff said, adding that despite these findings, asthma should never be left untreated.