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Monday 01 May 2000

Airway resistance and atopy in preschool children with wheeze and cough.

By: McKenzie SA, Bridge PD, Healy MJ.

Eur Respir J 2000 May;15(5):833-8

The extent to which the measurement of airways resistance by the interrupter technique (Rint) distinguishes preschool children with previous wheeze from those with no respiratory symptoms and helps to classify subjects with persistent cough, was investigated. Rint was measured before and after salbutamol treatment in 82 children with recurrent wheeze, 58 with isolated cough and 48 with no symptoms (control subjects). Their mean age (range) was 3.7 yrs (2-<5 yrs). Median baseline Rint was higher (p<0.0001) in wheezers than in either coughers or control subjects (1.16, 0.94 and 0.88 kPa x L(-1) x s(-1) respectively); coughers did not differ significantly from control subjects (p=0.14). The median ratios of baseline to post-salbutamol measurements (bronchodilator response (BDR)) in the groups differed significantly (1.40, 1.27 and 1.07, p< or =0.01 for all), suggesting that coughers occupy an intermediate position. A BDR ratio of >1.22 had a specificity and sensitivity for wheeze of 80% and 76% respectively. Twenty-eight coughers had a BDR ratio >1.22. Wheezers' immunoglobulin E was inversely related to baseline Rint. It is concluded that measurements of airway resistance by the interrupter technique are useful for classifying preschool children with respiratory symptoms and could be used to monitor the effect of interventions. The relation between atopy and airways resistance suggests that they have separate roles in preschool wheezing. Coughers with a high bronchodilator response could represent "cough-variant" asthma in children who have baseline airway resistance by the interrupter technique measurements similar to control subjects. Whether these children develop classical asthma will only be known at follow-up later in childhood.

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