Background: Asthma is a common condition characterised by wheeze. Many different respiratory sounds are interpreted by parents as “wheeze” in young children.
Aim: To relate different respiratory sounds reported as wheeze in 2-year-olds to asthma outcomes at age 5 years.
Methods: As part of a longitudinal cohort study, parents completed respiratory questionnaires for their children at 2 and 5 years of age. Parents who reported wheeze were given options to describe the sound as rattling, purring or whistling.
Results: Of the 1371 2-year-olds surveyed, 210 had current wheeze, of whom 124 had rattle, 49 purr and 24 whistle. Children with whistle at 2 years were more likely to have mothers with asthma, and children with rattle and purr were more likely to be exposed to tobacco smoke. Wheeze status was ascertained at age 5 years in 162 (77%) children with wheeze at 2 years of age. Whistle persisted in 47% of affected children, rattle in 20%, and purr in 13% (p = 0.023). At 5 years of age, asthma medication was prescribed in 40% with whistle, 11% with rattle, and 18% with purr at 2 years of age (p = 0.017).
Conclusions: This study shows different risk factors and outcomes for different respiratory sounds in 2-year-olds: compared with other respiratory sounds, whistle is likely to persist and require asthma treatment in future.
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