The incidence and prognosis of childhood asthma and wheezing illness (AW) was studied using data obtained at ages 7, 11, and 16 from a national cohort of 8806 children born in 1958. By the age of 16, 24.7% were reported to have experienced at least one episode of AW. In 18.3% AW had started before the age of 8, but only 4.2% continued to have symptoms in later childhood. A further 3.6% began to have AW between the ages of 8 and 11, and 2.8% began between the ages of 12 and 16. Of those with AW at age 7, 28.3% had symptoms at 11 and 16.5% at 16; these proportions were about doubled if AW at 7 had been severe. The associations between natural history and a large number of perinatal, social, environmental, and medical factors were examined. Those which predicted the onset of AW after the age of 7 were: male sex of child; mother aged 15-19 at child's birth; history of pneumonia, whooping cough, throat or ear infections or tonsillectomy; eczema, allergic rhinitis; and periodic vomiting or abdominal pain.
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