Children who contract respiratory infections before the age of two are more likely to die early in adulthood, according to a study by Imperial College London.
- Children who have respiratory infections before the age of two are more likely to have an early death linked to respiratory disorders in adulthood.
- Childhood respiratory diseases are thought to be responsible for one in five deaths from respiratory disease in adults.
- Researchers call for providing better prevention of childhood respiratory diseases.
Children who suffered from lower respiratory tract infections – such as bronchitis or pneumonia – before the age of two are almost twice as likely to die prematurely from respiratory diseases as adults. Here is the discovery of researchers from Imperial College London.
One in five deaths from respiratory disease linked to infection during childhood
The scientists reached this conclusion after examining the records of 3,589 people born in 1946 and followed up until 2019. 913 of them had suffered from a respiratory infection before the age of two.
The analysis shows that the risk of premature death from respiratory disease is 1.1% in England and Wales. It is 2.1% for individuals who have had bronchitis or pneumonia as a child. Thus, the latter are 93% more likely to die prematurely due to a respiratory pathology in adulthood.
Scientists say this increased risk potentially accounts for 179,188 premature deaths in adulthood in England and Wales between 1972 and 2019, or one in five deaths from respiratory disease.
Measures to prevent childhood respiratory infections
For the authors of the study published in The Lancettheir discovery “challenges the misconception that adult deaths from respiratory diseases are determined only by behavior in adulthood, such as smoking.” They recommend the implementation of measures to prevent childhood respiratory infections.
Professor Rebecca Hardy, co-author, adds on the london university website : “The results of our study suggest that efforts to reduce childhood respiratory infections may have an impact on tackling premature mortality from respiratory disease later in life. We hope this study will help guide organizations’ strategies international health organizations to tackle this problem.”
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