Background: Chronic cough in babies is often associated with bronchial hyperreactivity (BHR). The objective documentation of BHR in babies is difficult, and acoustic methods have been described (provocative concentration of a substance causing wheeze) for conducting bronchial provocation tests (BPTs). We conducted a study to evaluate automatic computerized wheeze detection (CWD) in determining BHR in young infants with prolonged cough, and its correlation with the subsequent development of wheezing.
Methods: Infants aged < 24 months with prolonged cough (ie, > 2 months) underwent acoustic BPTs with the response determined by CWD and auscultation by a physician. Telephone interviews with parents were conducted after 1 month and yearly for the next 3 years.
Results: A total of 28 infants who were 4 to 24 months old with prolonged cough were included in the study. Twenty of these infants (71.4%) had BHR as determined by a positive acoustic BPT result. In 11 of these 20 tests, the CWD occurred earlier, and in 9 tests it occurred at the same step as auscultation by a physician. Rhonchi or whistles often preceded wheezes. Seventeen of the 20 patients with BHR completed 3 years of follow-up. Of these, 14 had recurrent episodes of wheezing and shortness of breath, and 3 were well. Six of the eight adenosine-negative patients completed 3 years of follow-up and had no symptoms of BHR.
Conclusions: Acoustic BPT is a technically feasible test for the detection of BHR in young infants. CWD provides an earlier detection of wheeze than stethoscope auscultation. In our group of infants, a positive acoustic BPT result had high correlation with symptoms compatible with BHR over the next 3 years.