I was diagnosed with hay fever and asthma as a child, but outgrew them both. Researchers at McMaster University followed more than 1,000 children born in New Zealand in the early 1970’s. About 1/3 of those who had outgrown asthma by their 18th birthdays experienced a relapse of their asthma symptoms as young adults, according to the study published in the March 2005 Chest.
The good news is that more than 2/3 of the adults in the study had not had further asthma symptoms. For those that did relapse, the symptoms were generally mild and easily treatable. But I wouldn’t pin my hopes or fears on the numbers. The study was not large enough to reliably predict what percentage of kids will outgrow asthma, or even how many of those will have a relapse. Nevertheless, the study does show that some kids outgrow asthma, and that some of those relapse. Those at the highest risk for relapse in the study were those with skin-test proven allergies to house dust mites, grass, cats, dogs, and mold – but again, the correlation was not strong enough to be used to predict the outcome. However, environmental factors may help determine who relapses and who leaves asthma behind. The authors suggest that avoiding exposure to cigarette smoke and avoiding exposure to lung irritants, at home or at work, may help kids who appear to outgrow asthma to continue breathing easy as the years go by.