Asthma Management Handbook
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Table. Systems for retrospectively classifying the duration of childhood wheeze

Classification system/source Phenotypes identified Description
Tucson Children’s Respiratory Study † ‡ Transient wheeze

Wheezing commences before the age of 3 years and disappear by age 6 years

Persistent wheeze

Wheezing continues until up to or after age 6 years

Late-onset wheeze

Wheezing starts after age 3 years.

Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children § Transient early wheeze

Wheezing mainly occurs before 18 months, then mainly disappears by age 3.5 years

Not associated with hypersensitivity to airborne allergens

Prolonged early wheeze

Wheezing occurs mainly between age 6 months and 4.5 years, then mainly disappears before child’s 6th birthday

Not associated with hypersensitivity to airborne allergens

Associated with a higher risk of airway hyperresponsiveness and reduced lung function at age 8–9 years, compared with never/infrequent wheeze phenotype

Intermediate-onset wheeze

Wheezing begins sometime after age 18 months and before 3.5 years.

Strongly associated with atopy (especially house mite, cat allergen), higher risk of airway hyperresponsiveness and reduced lung function at age 8–9 years, compared with never/infrequent wheeze phenotype

Late-onset wheeze

Wheezing mainly begins after age 3.5 years

Strongly associated with atopy (especially house mite, cat allergen, grass pollen)

Persistent wheeze

Wheezing mainly begins after 6 months and continues through to primary school

Strongly associated with atopy

Notes

Terms can only be identified after the child has stopped wheezing for several years and cannot be applied to a preschool child.

Transient wheeze, persistent wheeze and late-onset wheeze can be episodic or multiple-trigger wheeze.#

Sources

† Martinez FD, Wright AL, Taussig LM et al. Asthma and wheezing in the first six years of life. The Group Health Medical Associates. N Engl J Med 1995; 332: 133-8. Available from: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199501193320301#t=article

‡ Morgan WJ, Stern DA, Sherrill DL et al. Outcome of asthma and wheezing in the first 6 years of life: follow-up through adolescence. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2005; 172: 1253-8. Available from: http://ajrccm.atsjournals.org/content/172/10/1253.long

§ Henderson J, Granell R, Heron J et al. Associations of wheezing phenotypes in the first 6 years of life with atopy, lung function and airway responsiveness in mid-childhood. Thorax 2008; 63: 974-80. Available from: http://thorax.bmj.com/content/63/11/974.long

# Brand PL, Baraldi E, Bisgaard H et al. Definition, assessment and treatment of wheezing disorders in preschool children: an evidence-based approach [European Respiratory Society Task Force]. Eur Respir J 2008; 32: 1096-110. Available from: http://erj.ersjournals.com/content/32/4/1096.full

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