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Study: Boys More Likely To Outgrow Childhood Asthma Than Girls

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Monday, August 18, 2008 4:21 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA & Prescription Drugs, Childhood Asthma, Twitchy Airways, Protecting Your Family, Children's Health


IMAGE SOURCE: © iStockPhoto / boy with inhaler / RMAX

Boys have a more increased risk of developing childhood asthma than girls, but a new study by researchers at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, says they are more likely than girls to outgrow the disease in adolescence.

Researchers wanted to investigate the observed sex differences in asthma rates and analyzed airway responsiveness, said Dr. Kelan G. Tantisira, of Harvard Medical School. This study is the first of its kind to examine the natural history of sex differences in asthma incidence.

A team of researchers followed a group of 1,040 children between the ages of 5 and 12 with mild to moderate asthma for nine years. Each child was given an annual breathing test to measure how well their airways responded to a substance called “methacholine,” which is a known asthma trigger.

During the duration of the study, girls’ reactions remained the same, while boys appeared to gain tolerance. Double doses were needed to provoke a reaction in boys by the time they were age 16, according to researchers.

14 percent of girls lost sensitivity by the age of 18, a positive sign. And 27 percent of the boys appeared to outgrow the disease.

“Persistence of airway responsiveness – referred to commonly as twitchy airways – is a main reason why asthma in girls may persist (or develop) past the onset of puberty,” said Dr. Tantisira.

Along with symptoms, over-reactive or twitchy airways are a useful marker for the development of asthma. Upon exposure to certain asthma triggers such as cat or dog dander, pollen or cold air – an asthmatic’s airways are more likely to constrict than that of a person that does not have the disease.

Asthma is a disease that causes narrowing of the bronchial tubes, wheezing, coughing and difficulties breathing. The main cause of asthma is unknown, but researchers have long believed that allergies play a major role in the disease.

Researchers hope to continue following these children to ascertain the severity of asthma as they reach adulthood.

The study is published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Another recent study found pregnant mothers who eat nut products regularly and have a family history of asthma and food allergies increase the risk for their child to develop asthma by 50 percent. #

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