Early life risk factors for chronic sinusitis: A longitudinal birth cohort study

Eugene H. Chang, Debra A. Stern, Amanda L. Willis, Stefano Guerra, Anne L. Wright, Fernando D. Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Chronic sinusitis is a commonly diagnosed condition in adults who frequently present with late-stage disease and irreversible changes to the sinus mucosa. Understanding the natural history of chronic sinusitis is critical in developing therapies designed to prevent or slow the progression of disease. Objective: We sought to determine early life risk factors for adult sinusitis in a longitudinal cohort study (Tucson Children's Respiratory Study). Methods: Physician-diagnosed sinusitis was reported at age 6. Adult sinusitis between 22 and 32 years was defined as self-reported sinusitis plus physician-ordered sinus radiologic films. Atopy was assessed by skin prick test. Individuals were grouped into 4 phenotypes: no sinusitis (n = 621), transient childhood sinusitis only (n = 57), late-onset adult sinusitis only (n = 68), and early onset chronic sinusitis (childhood and adult sinusitis, n = 26). Results: Sinusitis was present in 10.8% of children and 12.2% of adults. Childhood sinusitis was the strongest independent risk factor for adult sinusitis (odds ratio = 4.2; 95% CI: 2.5-7.1; P <.0001; n = 772). Early onset chronic sinusitis was associated with increased serum IgE levels as early as at 9 months of age, atopy (assessed by skin prick test reactivity), childhood eczema and allergic rhinitis, frequent childhood colds, maternal asthma, and with increased prevalence of concurrent asthma. No association was found between late-onset adult sinusitis and any of the early life risk factors studied. Conclusions: We identified an early onset chronic sinusitis phenotype associated with a predisposition to viral infections/colds in early life, allergies, and asthma. Elucidation of the molecular mechanisms for this phenotype may lead to future therapies to prevent the progression of the disease into adult sinusitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1291-1297.e2
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Sinusitis
  • allergy
  • asthma
  • natural history
  • viral

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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