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13-09-2009 | Respiratory | Article

Early daycare has no impact on childhood asthma, allergy risk


Free abstract

MedWire News: Children who attend daycare in early life experience more wheezing until the age of 5 years but thereafter have no more or less asthma or allergies than children who do not attend daycare, a prospective study has found.

The research was undertaken by Johan de Jongste (Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands) and colleagues and used data collected in the Prevention and Incidence of Asthma and Mite Allergy study. This was a prospective cohort that followed 3643 children from birth until the age of 8 years.

The researchers divided children into three groups: Those who first attended daycare between the ages of 0 and 2 years (“early daycare”); those who first attended daycare between ages 2 and 4 years (“late daycare”); and those who were not in daycare at all between birth and 4 years.

Analysis revealed that early daycare was associated with a nearly two-fold increased risk for wheezing in the first year of life versus no daycare (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=1.89).

This association had reversed by the age of 5 years, such that there was a trend towards less wheezing for children who had early daycare versus those without daycare (AOR=0.83).

By the age of 8 years, however, early daycare was not associated with an increased or decreased risk for wheezing, steroid prescription, or asthma symptoms.

Further analyses confirmed that neither daycare nor the presence of older siblings impacted the risk for asthma symptoms, sensitization, allergic asthma, or airway hyper-responsiveness at 8 years. This remained true after adjusting for a number of potential confounders.

Noting that daycare is a proxy for infections, de Jongste et al conclude: “Early daycare merely seems to shift the burden of respiratory morbidity to an earlier age, where it is more troublesome than at a later age.

“Hence, early daycare should be not be promoted for reasons of preventing asthma and allergy.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a part of Springer Science+Business Media. © Current Medicine Group Ltd; 2009

By Joanna Lyford

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