Children with severe asthma have 32 times higher risk for developing COPD

The aim of this longitudinal, prospective study was to evaluate for an association between childhood asthma and adult COPD.

The study included 6–7-year-old children who have been evaluated every 7 years to the current analysis at 50 years of age (197 patients). Participants completed respiratory questionnaires and lung function spirometry with postbronchodilator response.

At the age of 50, patients were classified to the following subgroups: non-asthmatics, asthma remission, current asthma and COPD. COPD was defined by FEV1 to FVC ratio postbronchodilator of less than 0.7.

As compared with children without symptoms of wheeze to the age of 7, (non-asthmatics) children with severe asthma had an adjusted 32 times higher risk for developing COPD. Of note, 43% of the COPD group had never smoked.

There was no evidence of a difference in the rate of decline in FEV1 between the COPD group (17 mL/year) and the other groups.


The association between childhood asthma and adult chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Andrew Tai et al. Thorax doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2013-204815

Image source: Enlarged view of lung tissue showing the difference between healthy lung and COPD, Wikipedia, public domain.

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