About Pediatric Recurrent Wheezing

Learn more about Pediatric Recurrent Wheezing, and Why the EAGLE Study is So Important

Wheezing is defined as a high-pitched whistling sound made while breathing, often associated with cough or other breathing difficulties e.g., shortness of breath, chest tightness, or chest retraction.  Wheezing and asthma-like symptoms are extremely common among children, starting even before age 1.1 In young children (less than 6 years), viral infections are the most common trigger for wheezing episodes.2

While recurrent wheezing will stop for some children by the age of 3, asthma-like symptoms may continue to flare for others, and eventually progress to asthma in later childhood (for about one third of recurrent wheezers.3 Wheezing episodes may come with varying levels of severity, timing, and persistency of symptoms. They may be associated with allergen sensitization, a genetic predisposition or a family history of asthma or allergies.4


More than 6 million children currently struggle with asthma in the US, and for many cases, symptoms have developed during the preschool years (before 5 years). Two major risk factors seem to play a crucial role in the early inception of asthma: the incidence of acute episodes of wheezing lower respiratory illnesses, most of which are caused by viral infections, and early sensitization of allergens.5


Recurrent wheezing and subsequently asthma can significantly affect children’s quality of life as they grow, resulting in more missed school days, inability to do normal activities such as sports, and unfortunately a much higher rate of hospitalizations.6


There is a variety of treatments available to improve disease control and/or relieve wheezing symptoms during an episode. However, none has durable disease-modifying effect, and they may have variable efficacy from patient to patient.7, 8

Illustration of an eagle chick
  1. Yunginger JW, Reed CE, O’Connell EJ, Melton LJ 3rd, O’Fallon WM, Silverstein MD. A community-based study of the epidemiology of asthma. Incidence rates, 1964-1983. Am Rev Respir Dis. 1992;146(4):888-94.
  2. Martinez FD. The connection between early life wheezing and subsequent asthma: The viral march. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2009;37(5):249-51.
  3. Patel SJ, Teach SJ. Asthma. Pediatr Rev. 2019 Nov;40(11):549-67.
  4. Jackson DJ, Gern JE, Lemanske RF Jr. The contributions of allergic sensitization and respiratory pathogens to asthma inception. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016 Mar;137(3):659-65; quiz 666.
  5. Jackson DJ, Sykes A, Mallia P, Johnston SL. Asthma exacerbations: origin, effect, and prevention. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 Dec;128(6):1165-74.
  6. Beigelman A, Bacharier LB. Management of preschool children with recurrent wheezing: lessons from the NHLBI’s Asthma Research Networks. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2016 Jan/Feb;4(1):1-8; quiz 9-10.
  7. Fitzpatrick AM, Jackson DJ, Mauger DT, Boehmer SJ, Phipatanakul W, Sheehan WJ, et al. Individualized therapy for persistent asthma in young children. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016 Dec;138(6):1608-18.e12. Epub 2016 Oct 21.
  8. Stokes JR, Bacharier LB. Prevention and treatment of recurrent viral-induced wheezing in the preschool child. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2020;125:156-62.

Refer a Child

Does your child, or a relative between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, have recurrent wheezing? They may be eligible to participate in the study. Consider sharing information with their parents or legal representatives about how they can learn more.

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Refer A Friend

Does your child, or someone you know between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, have recurrent wheezing? They may be eligible to participate in the study. Consider sharing information with them about how they can learn more.