Respiratory symptoms and lung function in relation to atopy in children born preterm.Pediatr Pulmonol. 2004 Jan; 37(1):43-9.PP
Respiratory morbidity is a major health problem among children. The aim of this study was to compare the background of respiratory problems of children born preterm with that of children born full-term, with special reference to atopy. The study comprised two cohorts of 10-year-old children: a group of 72 children born preterm with birth weights of less than 1,501 g, and a group of 65 children born full-term with birth weights of over 2,500 g. Histories of respiratory and atopic symptoms, and of risk factors for atopy, were collected with a questionnaire. Predisposition to atopy was verified by skin-prick testing and by measuring serum total and antigen-specific IgEs. Lung function was evaluated by spirometry testing. Children born preterm had significantly more wheezing. In them, the lifetime prevalence of wheezing was 43%, vs. 17% in children born full-term (P = 0.001; odds ratio, 3.71; 95% confidence interval, 1.67-8.25). In the full-term group, wheezing was associated with atopy: 64% of wheezers were atopic; in the preterm group, 23% of wheezers were atopic (difference between groups, P = 0.024). Children born preterm expired significantly lower spirometry values of forced vital capacity (FVC), forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1), FEV1/FVC ratio, forced expiratory flow after 50% of vital capacity has been exhaled (FEF50), and forced expiratory flow during middle half of FVC (FEF25-75). In the preterm group, wheezing, asthma, and low gestational age, but not atopy, were significantly associated with lower lung function values. Wheezers of the preterm group who still wheezed at age 10 were significantly more often atopic than those who no longer wheezed (62% vs. 9%, P = 0.006). In conclusion, we demonstrated a significant difference between groups in the association of atopy with respiratory problems. However, although atopy was not associated with a lifetime prevalence of respiratory symptoms in prematurely born children, an atopic predisposition in them was found to associate with persistence of wheezing.