To date, a limited number of population-based studies have prospectively evaluated the remission of childhood asthma. This work was intended to study the remission and persistence of childhood asthma and related factors.
In 1996, a questionnaire was distributed to the parents of all children aged 7 to 8 years in 3 municipalities in northern Sweden, and 3430 (97%) participated. After a validation study, 248 children were identified as having asthma; these children were reassessed annually until age 19 years when 205 (83%) remained. During the follow-up period lung function, bronchial challenge testing, and skin prick tests were performed. Remission was defined as no use of asthma medication and no wheeze during the past 12 months as reported at endpoint and in the 2 annual surveys preceding endpoint (ie, for ≥3 years).
At age 19 years, 21% were in remission, 38% had periodic asthma, and 41% persistent asthma. Remission was more common among boys. Sensitization to furred animals and a more severe asthma (asthma score ≥2) at age 7 to 8 years were both inversely associated with remission, odds ratio 0.14 (95% confidence interval 0.04–0.55) and 0.19 (0.07–0.54), respectively. Among children with these 2 characteristics, 82% had persistent asthma during adolescence. Asthma heredity, damp housing, rural living, and smoking were not associated with remission.
The probability of remission of childhood asthma from age 7- to 8-years to age 19 years was largely determined by sensitization status, particularly sensitization to animals, asthma severity, and female gender, factors all inversely related to remission.