Children who had respiratory infections at an early age have an increased risk of death from respiratory illness between the ages of 26 and 73 years, a new study has found. The study, published in The Lancet journal, suggests that the overall number of premature deaths from respiratory disease was small. However, people who had a lower respiratory tract infection or LRTI by the time they turned two were 93 per cent more likely to die prematurely from respiratory disease as adults. The study found that this is regardless of socioeconomic background or smoking status. Lower respiratory tract infections or LRTI include bronchitis or pneumonia.
The researchers were of the view that chronic respiratory diseases pose a major public health problem. According to an estimate, around 3.9 million deaths were reported because of respiratory disease in 2017. This accounts for 7 per cent of all deaths worldwide.
They said that Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) caused most of these deaths.
It has been found that infant LRTIs are linked to the development of adult lung function impairments, such as asthma and COPD. However, earlier it was not unclear if there was a link to premature death in adulthood.
The latest research is the first lifetime-spanning study on this topic. The latest research provides the best evidence yet that shows early respiratory health has an impact on mortality later in life.
For the study, researchers used data from a nationwide British cohort (The National Survey of Health and Development). Researchers recruited individuals whose birth year was in 1946 and then looked at their health and death records up to the year 2019.
There were 3,589 people who were part of the study. Out of this, 25 per cent had an LRTI before the age of two. By the end of 2019, 19 per cent of participants had died before the age of 73 years.
Among these 674 premature adult deaths, 8 per cent of participants died from respiratory disease, mostly COPD.