Childhood Asthma Linked to COPD

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 21, 2016

Close up image of a cute little boy using inhaler for asthma. A series of asthma related white background studio images.

As many as 20 percent of children with asthma will go on to have potentially severe symptoms in adulthood.

Researchers have uncovered a connection between persistent childhood asthma and COPD in early adulthood. But what does this mean for children who suffer from asthma?

The development of persistent childhood asthma (having trouble breathing on an almost daily basis) is not well understood. In most cases, childhood asthma resolves with time, but as many as 20 percent of children with asthma will go on to have potentially severe symptoms in adulthood.

In the largest and longest United States analysis of persistent asthmatics to date, investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) found a link between persistent childhood asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in early adulthood. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that early lung function predicts lung growth later in life, regardless of asthma treatment and smoking exposure.

“This work tells us that persistent childhood asthma can develop into COPD, something that up until now has not been well described,” said Scott T. Weiss, MD, one of the paper’s senior authors and Co-Director of the Systems Genetics and Genomics Section of the BWH Channing Division of Network Medicine. “Children who had low lung function at the start of the trial followed a series of predicted growth patterns: most had reduced lung growth with time and a significant number would go on to meet the criteria for COPD.”

The study followed 684 participants in the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) from ages 5-12 until they were at least 23 years old. Each participant reported once a year to one of eight research centers across the U.S. and Canada to complete lung function measurements like spirometry, a test that records how much air a participant can breathe out in one second.

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New Approaches for Patients with Severe Asthma

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 12, 2015

Asthma is one of the most common chronic respiratory diseases in the United States.

Asthma is one of the most common chronic respiratory diseases in the United States. Most people with asthma do very well with current medications, but there are some patients who struggle despite taking these medications.

In this video, Dr. Christopher H. Fanta, Director of the Partners Asthma Center and a member of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, discusses novel approaches to treatment of patients with severe asthma. These approaches include biologic therapy and an outpatient procedure called bronchial thermoplasty.

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Study Shows Smoking Bans Benefit Kids

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 17, 2014

Passive smoking is linked to premature births, birth defects, asthma, and lung infections.

We know that smoking cigarettes is bad for adults, but a 2014 intercontinental study demonstrates how beneficial public smoking bans are for children.

Nearly half of the world’s children are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke. Passive smoking is linked to premature births, birth defects, asthma, and lung infections. Studies also have suggested that being exposed to second hand smoke during childhood may have long-term health implications, contributing to the development of chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes, in later life.

Laws that prohibit smoking in public places, such as bars, restaurants, and workplaces, are proven to protect adults from the health threats associated with passive smoking. In the first comprehensive study to look at how anti-smoking laws are affecting the health of children, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, the University of Edinburgh, Maastricht University, and Hasselt University found that the introduction of new laws that ban smoking in public places in North America and Europe has been followed by a decrease in rates of premature births and hospital visits for asthma attacks in children. These findings were published in March 2014 in The Lancet.

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Preterm Birth May Increase Asthma Risk

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 2, 2014

Research suggests that preterm birth increases the risk of asthma and wheezing disorders during childhood.

Recently published research findings strongly suggest that preterm birth (prior to 37 weeks gestation) increases the risk of asthma and wheezing disorders during childhood. Furthermore, the risk of developing these conditions increases as the degree of prematurity increases.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH); Maastricht University Medical Centre and Maastricht University School of Public Health in the Netherlands; and The University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom reviewed and analyzed 30 studies investigating the association between preterm birth and asthma/wheezing disorders among 1.5 million children. These studies were conducted between 1995 and the present, a time span chosen to allow for recent changes in the management of prematurity.

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New Keys to Treating Aspirin-Induced Disease?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 11, 2013

AERD is a common respiratory condition in people with asthma who have sensitivity to aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Aspirin is usually taken as a handy aid for relieving aches and pains and also as a way to help prevent heart attacks. But, in some cases, its use can be the primary cause of certain diseases.

One such disease, aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD), is a common respiratory condition that occurs in people with asthma who have sensitivity to aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). AERD affects 5 to 10 percent of adults with asthma, around 30 percent of people with severe asthma, and approximately 40 percent of people with asthma plus nasal polyps. New research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, however, has provided insight into how the disease reveals itself and has helped suggest new treatment options.

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Important Information for Asthma Sufferers

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 12, 2013

Nearly ten percent of adults with asthma have a sensitivity to aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Do you experience watery eyes, stuffy nose, coughing, sinus pain, or chest tightness after taking pain medications like aspirin or ibuprofen? If so, you may have something known as aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD). Nearly ten percent of adults with asthma have AERD, which is characterized by a sensitivity to aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen, nasal polyps, and recurrent sinus infections.

“This is a fairly common condition that is linked with a multitude of chronic health issues,” says Dr. Tanya M. Laidlaw, an allergist in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Desensitization Program. “Even with complete avoidance of aspirin and NSAIDs, people with AERD continue to experience ongoing symptoms.”

The good news is that AERD (also called Samter’s Triad) can often be effectively treated with aspirin desensitization, a therapy that involves slowly increasing doses of aspirin throughout the course of a single day. Most patients are treated in an outpatient clinic setting, where reactions are closely monitored and managed. After the desensitization, patients continue to take aspirin daily to maintain treatment response.

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Who Knew that Germs Might Sometimes Be Good for Us?

Posted by Blog Administrator March 22, 2012

Germs

New BWH research shows that exposure to germs at an early age may help create a balanced immune system.

For many years, doctors and researchers have passed around a theory called the “hygiene hypothesis.” According to this notion, exposure of children to germs at an early age may help create a balanced immune system and prevent allergy and related diseases such as asthma and colitis later in life.

Yet there never was any direct research to back up the theory – until now. A new study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) researchers provides evidence supporting the hygiene hypothesis and also helps explain how and why it might occur.

The researchers studied the immune system of mice lacking exposure to bacteria or any other microbes (“germ-free mice”) and compared them to mice living in a normal environment with microbes.

They found that the germ-free mice had exaggerated inflammation of the lungs and colon resembling asthma and colitis. But even more importantly, the researchers discovered that exposing the germ-free mice to microbes during their first weeks of life helped them build a normalized immune system for the prevention of diseases. This was not the case in mice that were exposed to microbes later in adult life. Furthermore, the disease protection that the mice with early-life exposure to microbes received proved to be long-lasting.

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