Childhood asthma is often characterised by elevated exhaled nitric oxide (eNO), decreased lung function, increased airway reactivity and atopy; however, our understanding of when these phenotypic airway characteristics develop remains unclear. This study evaluated whether eNO, lung function, airway reactivity and immune characteristics during infancy are risk factors of asthma at age 5 years. Infants with eczema, enrolled prior to wheezy illness (n=116), had eNO, spirometry, airway reactivity and allergen sensitisation assessed at entry to the study and repeated at age 5 years (n=90). Increasing eNO at entry was associated with an increased risk of asthma (p=0.037) and increasing airway reactivity (p=0.015) at age 5 years. Children with asthma at 5 years of age had a greater increase in eNO between infancy and age 5 years compared with those without asthma (p=0.002). Egg sensitisation at entry was also associated with an increased risk of asthma (p=0.020), increasing eNO (p = 0.002) and lower forced expiratory flows (p=0.029) as a 5 year-old. Our findings suggest that, among infants at high risk for developing asthma, eNO early in life may provide important insights into the subsequent risk of asthma and its airway characteristics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine