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Logo of jroyalcgpracBJGP at RCGPBJGP at PubMed CentralJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralRCGP homepage
J R Coll Gen Pract. 1987 September; 37(302): 404–408.
PMCID: PMC1711146

Development of respiratory illness in childhood — a longitudinal study in general practice


The prognosis of early childhood respiratory illness has been studied by analysis of historic cohorts using data recorded since 1967 in the continuous morbidity registration project of the University of Nijmegen. The characteristics of this project are discussed, including the stability of the practice (study) population, a factor which allows longitudinal analysis to be performed.

The development of respiratory morbidity during the first eight years of life has been analysed and a group of 710 patients characterized on the basis of their respiratory morbidity in the first two years of life. In general the highest levels of respiratory morbidity are seen in the first years of life, with a gradual decline over the years studied. Upper respiratory tract infections are largely responsible for this morbidity. An elevated level of episodes of respiratory illness in patients aged two to seven years was observed when the following characteristics of early life respiratory morbidity were present: more than three episodes of respiratory illness, lower respiratory tract infections or catarrhal conditions. However, by the age of seven years the level of morbidity of the children with these characteristics was very similar to that of children without these characteristics. Respiratory morbidity in childhood is predominantly benign and self-limiting. Only children with atopic conditions in early childhood showed a higher prevalance of asthma and chronic bronchitis at the end of the study period.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Samet JM, Tager IB, Speizer FE. The relationship between respiratory illness in childhood and chronic air-flow obstruction in adulthood. Am Rev Respir Dis. 1983 Apr;127(4):508–523. [PubMed]
  • Hart JT. Wheezing in young children: problems of measurement and management. J R Coll Gen Pract. 1986 Feb;36(283):78–81. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Maduagwu EN. Observations, in vitro, on N-nitrosation by intracellular extracts of some microorganisms isolated from palm wine. Toxicol Lett. 1981 Feb;7(4-5):341–346. [PubMed]
  • Barker DJ, Osmond C. Childhood respiratory infection and adult chronic bronchitis in England and Wales. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986 Nov 15;293(6557):1271–1275. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Strachan DP. The prevalence and natural history of wheezing in early childhood. J R Coll Gen Pract. 1985 Apr;35(273):182–184. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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