chapter  18
46 Pages

Virus-Induced Wheeze in Young Children: A Separate Disease?

The last 40 years have seen great changes in the attitudes of clinicians and scientists to wheezing disorders in general, and in particular to asthma. Central to the arguments has been the response of the airways to viral infections of the respiratory tract, particularly in childhood. In the 1960s, astute clinicians in primary or secondary care settings were aware of a disorder variously called wheezy bronchitis, infant wheeze, or recurrent bronchiolitis, which affected very young children and whose clinical hallmark was recurrent wheezing in association with respiratory tract infection (RTI) (1). It was common and often severe in the first years of life, but its prognosis was good and it appeared clinically distinct from (atopic) asthma. Indeed, it was stated that a diagnosis of asthma should not be made in infancy.