How Influential Is Family History in Childhood Asthma Development?

Children were more likely to be diagnosed with asthma if they also had a sibling with asthma.
Children were more likely to be diagnosed with asthma if they also had a sibling with asthma.

This article is part of MPR coverage of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, taking place in Orlando, Florida. Our staff will report on medical research related to asthma and other respiratory conditions, conducted by experts in the field. Check back regularly for more news from AAAAI/WAO 2018.



ORLANDO — Having an older sibling with asthma may increase the risk for asthma diagnosis, according to data presented at the 2018 Joint Congress of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology/World Allergy Organization (AAAAI/WAO), held from March 2-5, in Orlando, Florida.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison evaluated children at high risk for asthma who were enrolled in the Childhood Origins of Asthma (COAST; ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00204841) study. 

A total of 289 newborns were included based on parental histories of asthma and/or allergy. Children were diagnosed with asthma at the ages of 6, 8, 11, and 13 years based on physician diagnosis, patterns of medication use, and symptoms. Sibling asthma was assessed by parental report on child questionnaires.

According to family history, rates of asthma were 19% to 23% in children without a family history of asthma, 27% to 31% in children with parental asthma, 36% to 40% with sibling asthma, and 40% to 49% with both parental and sibling asthma. 

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Specifically, having an older sibling with asthma was associated with increased odds of asthma at ages 6, 8, 11, and 13 years (odds ratio [OR], 1.95; 95% CI, 1.09-3.48; P =.03; OR 2.15; 95% CI, 1.19-3.87; P =.01; OR 2.06; 95% CI, 1.11-3.84; P =.02; OR 1.88; 95% CI, 1.00-3.56; P =.05, respectively).

The researchers noted that parental asthma was not associated with a significantly increased risk, possibly because the study inclusion criteria required at least 1 parent to have respiratory allergies and/or asthma. They added that both genetic and environmental factors shared by siblings are likely to contribute to the increased risk for asthma, and the use of sibling asthma history could “help risk stratify and identify children at an increased risk for asthma.”

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Reference

Peloza DL, Evans MD, Gern JE, Lemanske RF Jr, Jackson DJ. Asthma in siblings and risk for childhood asthma. Presented at: 2018 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology/World Allergy Organization Joint Congress; March 2-5, 2018; Orlando, FL. Poster 27.