Q: My baby is prone to coughing whenever she has a cold. Should I be worried about asthma?
A: Wheezing and coughing can happen more commonly in babies because their lungs and airways are so small that even low levels of congestion can make it harder for them to breathe. Most children stop wheezing by age 2, and research shows that babies who wheeze and cough before then are no more likely to develop asthma than those who don't.
It's only when the chronic coughing and wheezing continues after a child turns 2 or if she's prone to coughs that linger once a cold has gone away that doctors start to suspect asthma. That's why it's important to discuss your baby's symptoms and your family history (since asthma can often be genetic) with your pediatrician. While some children have asthma episodes that are triggered exclusively by colds and other upper respiratory infections, the good news is that these kids don't tend to require daily inhaled steroid medications to manage their symptoms, the way most asthmatic children do. However, they may need to use asthma meds (like albuterol) occasionally to breathe easier when they do get sick.
Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.