Association of Severe Bronchiolitis during Infancy with Childhood Asthma Development: An Analysis of the ECHO Consortium

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Conference Proceeding

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Objective: Many studies have shown that severe (hospitalized) bronchiolitis during infancy is a risk factor for developing childhood asthma. However, the population subgroups at the highest risk remain unclear. Using large nationwide pediatric cohort data, namely the NIH Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program, we aimed to quantify the longitudinal relationship of bronchiolitis hospitalization during infancy with asthma in a generalizable dataset and to examine potential heterogeneity in terms of major demographics and clinical factors.

Methods: We analyzed data from infants (age <12 months) enrolled in one of the 53 prospective cohort studies in the ECHO Program during 2001–2021. The exposure was bronchiolitis hospitalization during infancy. The outcome was a diagnosis of asthma by a physician by age 12 years. We examined their longitudinal association and determined the potential effect modifications of major demographic factors.

Results: The analytic cohort consisted of 11,762 infants, 10% of whom had bronchiolitis hospitalization. Overall, 15% subsequently developed asthma. In the Cox proportional hazards model adjusting for 10 patient-level factors, compared with the no-bronchiolitis hospitalization group, the bronchiolitis hospitalization group had a significantly higher rate of asthma (14% vs. 24%, HR = 2.77, 95%CI = 2.24–3.43,p< 0.001). There was significant heterogeneity by race and ethnicity (Pinteraction= 0.02). The magnitude of the association was greater in non-Hispanic White (HR = 3.77, 95%CI = 2.74–5.18,p< 0.001) and non-Hispanic Black (HR = 2.39, 95%CI = 1.60–3.56;p< 0.001) infants, compared with Hispanic infants (HR = 1.51, 95%CI = 0.77–2.95,p= 0.23).

Conclusions: According to the nationwide cohort data, infants hospitalized with bronchiolitis are at a higher risk for asthma, with quantitative heterogeneity in different racial and ethnic groups.