Do viruses cause asthma?


Published Online: April 21, 2015

Respiratory tract infections in the first years of life have been associated with later asthma. This observation has led to a focus on a potential causal role of specific respiratory viruses—such as rhinoviruses and respiratory syncytial virus—in asthma development.

In a study recently published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), Bønnelykke and colleagues studied the relationship between viral respiratory tract infections in the first three years of life and occurrences of asthma by age seven. The study looked at 313 children from the Copenhagen Prospective Studies on Asthma in Childhood 2000 (COPSAC2000) birth cohort.

The authors found that the number of respiratory episodes, irrespective of the particular virus detected during the episode, was associated with later asthma.

This suggests that future research should focus on patients’ susceptibility to lower respiratory infections rather than a specific viral trigger.


The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) is an official scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology.

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