Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences & UBC Division of Respiratory Medicine
Respiratory Evaluation Sciences Program

Research Theme Asthma

Association between asthma control trajectories in preschoolers and long-term asthma control


Background: The potential influence of asthma control in early life on long-term outcomes in childhood remains largely unknown.

Objective: To examine whether asthma control trajectories in the 2 years after diagnosis in preschoolers are associated with long-term unsatisfactory asthma control.

Methods: We conducted a multicenter population-based retrospective cohort study, including four Canadian provincial birth cohorts derived from administrative databases. We included preschoolers (aged <5 years) with a diagnosis of asthma, defined as having one hospitalization or two physician visits for asthma within 2 years. Asthma control trajectories, ascertained over four 6-month periods after diagnosis using a validated index, were classified as controlled throughout, improving control, fluctuating control, worsening control, and out of control throughout. Long-term unsatisfactory control was defined as four or more short-acting β2-agonist average doses per week or an exacerbation, measured within 6 months before index ages 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16 years. Average risk ratios for long-term unsatisfactory control across all index ages were estimated using a robust Poisson model by province and meta-analyzed with a random effects model.

Results: In 50,188 preschoolers with asthma, the pooled average risk of having unsatisfactory control at any index age was 42% (95% confidence interval, 34.6-49.4). Compared with children who were controlled throughout, incrementally higher average risk ratios (95% confidence interval) of long-term unsatisfactory control were observed in each trajectory: improving control, 1.38 (1.28-1.49); fluctuating control, 1.54 (1.40-1.68); worsening control, 1.70 (1.55-1.86) and out of control throughout, 2.00 (1.80-2.21).

Conclusions: Suboptimal asthma control trajectories shortly after a preschool diagnosis were associated with long-term unsatisfactory asthma control. Early control trajectories appear to be promising for predicting the risk for long-term adverse outcomes.

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