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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) begins in early childhood

Published online: June 11, 2020

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may originate early in life and share disease mechanisms with asthma-like symptoms in early childhood, but this hypothesis is unsubstantiated due to the lack of long term, prospective studies following children from birth into late adulthood.

In this study published in The Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (JACI), Bisgaard and colleagues performed a study of 3,290 mothers and their children (born 1959-1960), who had been examined during pregnancy and at ages 1, 3 and 6 years for early asthma-like symptoms.

Development of COPD (up to 2018) was assessed from the Danish national registries on hospitalizations and prescription medication. The authors found that early asthma-like symptoms were associated with an approximately doubled risk of a hospital diagnosis of COPD (Hazard Ratio (HR) = 1.88 [95% CI, 1.32; 2.68]) and use of COPD medication (HR=2.27 [95% CI,1.38; 3.70]).

The authors hypothesize that COPD may be founded in childhood, pointing towards prenatal or early life as a window of opportunity for COPD prevention.

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.

Graphical Abstract

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