Most children with asthma develop their symptoms before the age of 5 years and many preschool wheezers continue to wheeze in the early school years. It is thus important to investigate the factors that predispose young children to wheeze. The objective of this study was to investigate the relevant environmental and family influences on recent wheeze (wheeze within the last 12 months) in preschool children. A cross-sectional study was conducted in five primary health clinics in the district of Kota Bharu from April to October 1998. Nurses from these clinics distributed Bahasa Malaysia questionnaires containing questions on asthma symptoms, environmental risk factors, family's social status and family history of atopy and wheeze to preschool children aged 1-5 years during their home visits. The respondents were parent(s) or carer(s) of the children. A total of 2,524 (87.7%) complete questionnaires were available for analysis of risk factors. One hundred and fifty six (6.2%) children had current wheeze. Significant risk factors associated with current wheeze were a family history of asthma (O.R. = 6.36, 95% C.I. = 4.45-9.09), neonatal hospital admission (O.R. = 2.38, 95% C.I. = 1.51 - 3.75), and a maternal (O.R. = 2.12, 95% C.I. = 1.31-3.41) or paternal (O.R. = 1.52, 95% C.I. = 0.95-2.43) history of allergic rhinitis. Among environmental factors examined, namely, household pets, carpeting in bedroom, use of fumigation mats, mosquito coils and aerosol insect repellents, maternal and paternal smoking, and air conditioning, none were associated with an increased risk of wheeze. In conclusion, the strongest association with current wheeze was a family history of asthma. Also significant were neonatal hospital admission and a history of allergic rhinitis in either the mother or father. None of the environmental factors studied were related to current wheeze in preschool children.
Study site: Klinik Kesihatan, Kelantan, Malaysia
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.