Background: It has been postulated that the association between allergic rhinitis and asthma is attributable to the progressive clinical expression of respiratory inflammation during childhood. The role of non-allergic rhinitis in early life in relation to subsequent asthma has not been extensively explored. Objective: We sought to determine whether rhinitis in early life was associated with risk of asthma development into adulthood, and whether this relationship is independent of allergic sensitization. Methods: Participants were identified from the Tucson Children's Respiratory Study, a non-selected birth cohort. Allergy skin prick testing was performed at age 6 years using house dust mix, Bermuda, mesquite, olive, mulberry, careless weed, and Alternaria aeroallergens. Atopy was defined as ≥1 positive tests. Physician-diagnosed active asthma from age 6 to 32 and physician-diagnosed rhinitis at age 6 were determined by questionnaire. Participants with asthma or active wheezing at age 6 were excluded from analyses. Risk estimates were obtained with Cox regression. Results: There were 521 participants who met inclusion criteria. The hazard ratio for subsequently acquiring a diagnosis of asthma between the ages of 8 and 32 for those with non-atopic rhinitis was 2.1 (95% CI: 1.2, 3.4, P = 0.005), compared with the non-atopic no rhinitis group, after adjusting for sex, ethnicity, maternal asthma, maternal education and smoking, and history of 4+ colds per year at age 6. Among the atopic participants, both the active and no rhinitis groups were more likely to develop and have asthma through age 32. The relation between non-atopic rhinitis and asthma was independent of total serum IgE levels at age 6. Conclusion and Clinical Relevance: Childhood rhinitis, even in the absence of atopy, confers significant risk for asthma development through adulthood. These findings underscore the importance of non-allergic mechanisms in the development of asthma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy