Research On When Kids Get Asthma & When They Grow Out Of It Shows Its Reach


Of all the reasons that kids under 15 can end up in the hospital, asthma is the third most common, according to the American Lung Association. And that's in no small part because of its sheer ubiquity, as it affects 6.2 million kids under 18 nationwide — and rates are rising across all age groups. And research on when kids get asthma and when they grow out of it shows just how many kids are affected. The good news is that many kids certainly can grow out of the chronic illness, which impedes the movement of air into and out of their lungs, and many do.

It's unclear exactly why asthma rates are climbing, although popular hypotheses include increased air pollution and higher body weights. Regardless, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) about one in 14 people in the country had asthma in 2001, a number that climbed to one in 12 by 2009. And kids had asthma at a rate of 10 percent that year, meaning that they were more likely to have the illness than adults were. Kids tend to end up with their diagnoses at quite young ages: According to Baby Center, between half and 80 percent of kids who have asthma begin to exhibit symptoms — which include wheezing and constant coughing, before their fifth birthdays.

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They don't always carry the illness into adulthood, though, or even into adolescence. The New York Times reported in 2013 that researchers from the Obstructive Lung Disease in Northern Sweden studies program found that, of the 248 kids with asthma they followed from the ages of 7 and 8, about 1 in 5 of them appeared to outgrow it by age 19. Although doctors were reluctant to consider them "cured," this 21 percent had not suffered from the telltale wheezing in three years.

But according to WebMD, it could be that kids whose symptoms vanish never had asthma in the first place. Instead, Joyce C. Rabbat, MD, of Loyola University Medical Center’s Division of Allergy and Immunology told the site that they had a temporary condition that did not ultimately progress to asthma. The wheezing that is a hallmark of this phenomenon typically goes away without treatment by the time a kid is 5 or 6 years old.

Those who aren't so lucky may end up with "persistent, lifelong asthma," and risk factors for that include a parent with asthma, eczema, sensitivity to airborne allergens like pollen, and allergies to food like milk or peanuts, according to WebMD.

It's not an ideal situation, of course, but still totally manageable.