Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood. Although mortality rates in the Netherlands and other Western European countries are low, astlmm causes a great deal of morbidity and school absence. Incidence rates in our country are about 10% and recent epidemiologic studies show an increase especially in the young age group. Despite the availability of several classes of effective and safe anti-asthma drugs. so far childhood asthma can not be cured. However, there is no doubt that medical treatment may result in appreciable clinical improvement. With medical intervention, it is hardly possible to address the natural history of asthma from childhood to adulthood. The longest prospective ongoing study in Melbourne, following a cohort of 249 subjects from 7 to 35 years now revealed that 29% of those with wheeze at age 7 still had symptoms at the age of 35 years. Follow-up studies in our country by Gerritsen and Roorda showed 43%, respectively 76% of their populations still having respiratory symptoms in adulthood. Airway caliber and the degree of airway responsiveness during childhood may be predictors of the outcome of childhood asthma.

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Glaxo-Wellcome BV (Zeist, The Netherlands)
J.M. Boogaard , K.F. Kerrebijn
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

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