A study finds that children who undergo brief periods of intense exercise may exhibit lung dysfunction or other symptoms similar to those experienced by asthma patients, even when no history of asthma exists. The findings were presented on May 18 at the American Thoracic Society 2010 International Conference in New Orleans.
While studies have shown that adults who undergo vigorous exercise can experience wheezing and a decrease in pulmonary function testing (PFT), even when there is no prior history of asthma, the extent of exercise-associated PFT abnormality in healthy children had received relatively less attention, according to Alladdin Abosaida, MD, the study’s lead author.
Researchers examined the effects of exercise in 56 healthy children with no clinical history of asthma or allergy, measuring lung function following each exercise test.
“We evaluated two exercise protocols in each child—a constant work rate exercise test commonly used for evaluation of exercise-induced asthma, and a progressive exercise test typically used to determine an individuals aerobic capacity,” said Abosaida.
Nearly half of the children tested had at least one abnormal result when pulmonary function was measured following exercise. Researchers said the results were surprising.
“We did not expect to see pulmonary function abnormalities after short periods of heavy exercise in such a large number of healthy children in our subject population,” said Abosaida. “We speculate that either the inflammatory response to exercise or cellular changes that may occur as the result of dehydration of the airway surface, or both, led to mild airway obstruction.”
Additional research will be needed to understand the pathogenesis and management plan of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction in healthy children, added Abosaida.