Allergies at the Root of Children's Wheezing

Allergies linked to causing virus induced wheezing in children

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Allergies and wheezing increase the risk of developing asthma in children. Researchers have discovered that allergy sensitivity causes wheezing in children, which may lead to better treatments for wheezing and asthma.

Sensitivity to airborne allergens, such as pollen, was linked to a higher risk of developing human rhinovirus (HRV)-induced wheezing. Viral-induced wheezing did not lead to an increased risk of allergy sensitivity.

Using medication to treating allergy sensitivity may also have beneficial effects on viral-induced wheezing.

"If your child is wheezing, ask your doctor about allergy tests."

The study was led by Daniel J. Jackson, M.D., Department of Pediatrics, Section of Allergy, Immunology and Rheumatology, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Researchers followed 285 children who had a high risk of developing allergies and asthma from birth until the age of six.

The origin and when a child had viral-induced wheezing was then determined. Allergy sensitivity was also measured yearly during the six years of the study.

Children who had allergies to pollen were more likely to develop viral-induced wheezing than children who did not have allergies. Allergy sensitivity was only linked to wheezing caused by HRV and not respiratory syncytial virus, which is another common cause of lower respiratory tract infection.

Allergic children were at the greatest risk of developing viral-induced wheezing at one year of age. When compared to other children in the study, the relative risk increased at each year of the study. Viral wheezing was not shown to increase allergy sensitivity in children.

Researchers conclude that allergy sensitivity can lead to more severe HRV-induced lower respiratory tract infections which means allergy sensitivity is a cause of wheezing, not an effect. Sensitivity to pollen, or other airborne irritants, always occurred before wheezing according to the study.

Future studies can look at how treatments for allergy sensitivity affects wheezing in children. Wheezing is also a symptom of asthma and by treating the cause of wheezing, allergy sensitivity, may also reduce the risk of developing asthma.

The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Clinical and Translational Science Award program of the National Center for Research Resources. No author conflicts were reported.

The study was published in the February edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 5, 2012
Last Updated:
February 6, 2012