Childhood asthma : factors predicting severity and persistence of symptoms


Salma Ben Ameur
Rim Belhadj
Sourour Yaich
Jamel Damak
Ines Maaloul
Thouraya Kammoun


Background: Asthma is the most common chronic disease in infants. In young children, asthma still raises many questions and many points are still being debated.

Aim: The aim of this study is to identifies, in asthmatic children, factors predictors of severity and persistence of symptoms.

Methods: A retrospective study of asthmatic infants<3 years enrolled in the pediatric department of Sfax over a period of 5 years (2007-2011). We were interested to social and environmental factors, the allergic background, clinical severity of the disease, results of allergic skin tests, treatment and respiratory outcome.

Results: We collected 180 children with a sex ratio of 2.2. Family history of atopy and exposition to passive tobacco were noted in 45 % and 52% of cases respectively. The mean age of onset of wheezing was 6.6 months. Skin tests were positives in 32% of cases. At the time of diagnosis, asthma was classified intermittent (21%), mild to moderate (55.6%) and severe (22.2%).  Inhaled corticosteroids was initiated in 142 infants (78.8%). Skin tests performed in 84 patients, were positive in 32%.

Factors associated with severe asthma were passive smoking, early age of onset, number of hospitalizations for exacerbation and existence of an aggravating factor.

Factors predictors of persistence were an early age of onset, caesarean delivery, passive smoking and positive skin tests.

Conclusion: Factors associated with persistence of asthma at the individual level remains uncertain. However, atopy and passive smoking are major indicators.