The world's largest and longest-running study on respiratory health, the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study, has found children who had bronchitis are more likely to develop serious lung issues later in life.
The study, co-funded by the Clifford Craig Foundation, followed 8583 Tasmanians who started school in 1968 and found higher rates of asthma, pneumonia, and other lung diseases in childhood bronchitis sufferers.
The findings, released on Tuesday by the Allergy and Lung Health Unit at the University of Melbourne, will help doctors identify children who could benefit from more careful monitoring and early medical interventions.
Lead author Dr Jennifer Perret said it was the first long-term study in the world to identify the relationship between lung diseases in adulthood and childhood bronchitis.
"Studies like ours are documenting the potential for symptomatic children to develop lung conditions, such as asthma and lung function changes, up to mid-adult life," Dr Perret said.
Originally started as a study into asthma in primary school children, the project has now become an internationally recognised research program into respiratory health and chronic pulmonary diseases, with 45,840 participants.
The data comes as Asthma Australia identified Tasmania as having one of the highest rates of asthma in the country, with about 66,000 sufferers - or one in eight people - recorded across the state.
It identified Launceston, Dorset, and George Town as being in the top five areas with the highest incidences of asthma in the state.
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