As part of a long term prospective study, 73 children who had been admitted to hospital with viral bronchiolitis as infants, were reviewed 5.5 years later and compared with a carefully matched control group. In the postbronchiolitis group, there was a highly significant increase in respiratory symptoms including wheezing (42.5% v 15.0%, relative risk = 2.8). Although atopy in the family was not significantly increased in the index group, personal atopy was more prevalent. However, personal atopy was not significantly more prevalent in the symptomatic postbronchiolitis, compared with those who were symptom free, and so did not account for the high prevalence of postbronchiolitis wheezing in this cohort. In addition, in a stepwise logistic regressional model, bronchiolitis remained a significant predictor of wheezing after adjusting for potential confounding variables, including atopy. Bronchial responsiveness to histamine was significantly increased in the index group. However, no significant relationship of positive tests to wheezing could be demonstrated, and a high rate of positive responses was noted in the controls.
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