Asthma is a fairly common respiratory condition for children. But just because someone has asthma as a kid does not necessarily mean they're stuck with the condition for life.
A recent study uncovered several factors that make it more likely that someone will recover from asthma later in life.
Children with less severe asthma were more likely to eventually lose symptoms and not need medication compared to kids with severe asthma. Also, boys were more likely than girls to recover from asthma.
Meanwhile, kids with a sensitivity to furry animals were more likely to continue having asthma through their late teen years compared to those without animal allergies.
This study, led by Martin Andersson, MD, of the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine at Umeå University in Sweden, looked at how many kids with asthma went into remission.
Going into remission means that the children are no longer asthmatic. To qualify as being in remission, the children had to have no wheezing and have taken no medication for asthma for at least three years.
The researchers tracked 248 children with asthma, starting when they were 7 to 8 years old and continuing until they were 19. By the end of the study, they had only kept up with 205 participants.
The children had been identified as having asthma through questionnaires given to 3,430 parents in northern Sweden, and then their diagnoses were confirmed.
Each year during the follow-up period, the children's lung function was assessed. They also underwent "bronchial challenge" testing and skin prick tests.
Bronchial challenge tests involve breathing into a medical instrument that helps doctors learn the severity of a person's asthma.
At the end of the study when the kids were 19 years old, 21 percent of them (about one fifth) were in remission.
Meanwhile, 38 percent had periodic asthma and 41 percent had persistent asthma. Periodic asthma means the symptoms come and go but never permanently go away.
Boys were more likely than girls to be in remission for their asthma. While about 14 percent of the girls went into remission, 26 percent of the boys did.
In addition, those who were sensitive to furry animals (cats, dogs, horses) and/or those who had more severe asthma when they were 7 or 8 years old were less likely to go into remission.
Among children who had both severe asthma and a sensitivity to furry animals, 82 percent had persistent asthma all the way through to age 19.
Whether or not a child went into remission was not related to whether their parents had asthma, whether they lived in damp housing, whether they lived in the country or whether their mother smoked during pregnancy.
"Remission of childhood asthma was common in late adolescence," the researchers wrote.
"Special emphasis should be directed toward the clinical management and follow-up of children with sensitization to furred animals, more severe asthma and asthma among girls because these factors are associated with [asthma] persistence," the researchers wrote.
This study was published July 29 in the journal Pediatrics. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.
The research was funded by the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation, the Swedish Foundation for Health Care Science and Allergy Research, the Swedish Asthma-Allergy Foundation, Visare Norr, Umeå University, Västerbotten County Council, Norrbotten County Council and the Swedish Research Council.
Additional funding was provided by GlaxoSmithKline World Wide Epidemiology, ALK-Abello (Horsholm, Denmark) and ThermoFisher.