TUESDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- As many as one in five
youngsters with asthma may grow out of the respiratory condition as
they age, new research indicates.
Girls and those who are allergic to furry animals, such as dogs
and cats, may be out of luck, however. The study found that
remission was less likely in such children.
Swedish researchers who followed more than 200 children with
asthma found that at 19 years of age, 21 percent were in remission,
meaning they had no wheeze or need for inhalers. Remission was more
common among boys, they found.
"Sensitization to furred animals and a more severe asthma at age
7 to 8 years were both inversely associated with remission," said
study author Dr. Martin Andersson, who is part of the Obstructive
Lung Disease in Northern Sweden studies.
Still, even those allergic to furry animals with severe asthma
at a young age had an 18 percent shot at remission, according to
the study, published online July 29 in the journal
As children with asthma grow into adulthood, many stop
experiencing the shortness of breath and wheezing that characterize
the chronic airway disease. Doctors will rarely say a child has
outgrown asthma, because there's always the possibility it will
come back if someone is exposed to significant enough asthma
triggers. Instead, they refer to someone who hasn't had symptoms in
a long time as being in remission.
The remission rate in young adults hasn't been well studied, and
reported remission rates range from 16 percent to 60 percent, the
To get a better idea of the actual remission rate, Andersson and
his colleagues reviewed data from a study begun in 1996 in three
municipalities in northern Sweden to examine asthma and its
associated conditions. First- and second-grade children were
invited to participate in the study.
At the start of the study, 248 children were found to have
asthma, 58 percent of them boys. The children's parents completed
annual questionnaires until their children were 19. At the end of
the study, 205 participants remained.
Remission was defined as parental report of no use of asthma
medications in the previous 12 months on at least three annual
surveys, including the final questionnaire. Persistent asthma was
defined as having asthma symptoms or needing asthma medication in
at least eight of nine previous questionnaires. Periodic asthma was
defined as neither remission nor persistent asthma.
Overall, 21 percent were in remission, 38 percent had periodic
asthma and 41 percent had persistent asthma. Out of 118 boys, about
26 percent were in remission compared to roughly 14 percent of 87
People whose asthma persisted were more likely to be allergic to
cats, dogs, horses and birch trees at ages 7 to 8. The area where
the children were from is a very dry climate, without dust mites,
so the researchers noted that they were not able to assess how the
common dust mite allergy might have affected asthma remission
Those in remission and those with periodic asthma had similar
reports of asthma severity, nasal inflammation and the skin
condition eczema. Those who had persistent asthma had more severe
asthma, experienced more nasal inflammation and eczema, according
to the study.
Remission wasn't linked to damp housing, living in a rural area
or a family history of asthma, according to the study.
Parents always want to know how long their children will have
asthma, said Dr. Jennifer Appleyard, chief of allergy and
immunology at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit.
"This study can give parents some hope, but there's no guarantee
for any child," Appleyard said. "Really, the glass is half full.
There's a good chance you'll outgrow it, but there's also a good
chance you won't, especially if you have allergies, too."
What wasn't clear from this study, she said, was if certain
treatments such as allergy shots might make a difference in whether
or not someone goes into asthma remission.
What is known is that people who've had asthma are always
potentially at risk. Even if you haven't had symptoms in a long
time, Appleyard said you should play it safe and always have an
inhaler available in case you suddenly develop symptoms.
Learn more about asthma from the
U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood