Respiratory disease, particularly bronchitis, in early childhood boosts the risks of illness and premature death in adulthood, indicates research published ahead of print in Thorax.
The researchers base their findings on around 10,000 male graduates who went to Glasgow University between 1948 and 1968 and agreed to be part of a long term study to track their health. No women were included because fewer went to university at that time than do now.
As students they were examined by a doctor and supplied details of childhood illness, including bronchitis, asthma, and pneumonia, as well as their weight, height, and blood pressure.
Between 1998 and 2002, efforts were made to trace and survey those who were still alive. In all, 4044 out of 8410 responded.
Those who had had bronchitis, pneumonia, or asthma in early childhood were 57% more likely to die of respiratory disease than those who had not had these illnesses as children.
And they were more than twice as likely to die of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, the umbrella term for progressive respiratory diseases, such as emphysema and bronchitis.
Students who had had bronchitis were also 38% more likely to die of cardiovascular disease.
Respiratory illness during childhood was also associated with a higher risk of assorted respiratory problems in adulthood, ranging from the relatively minor to the severe. These findings also held true among those who had never smoked.
Journal reference: Association between early life history of respiratory disease and morbidity and mortality in adulthood Online First Thorax 2008; doi 10.1136/thx.2007.086744
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