Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Childhood adversities and adult-onset asthma: a cohort study
  1. Jyrki Korkeila1,
  2. Raija Lietzen2,
  3. Lauri H Sillanmäki3,
  4. Päivi Rautava4,
  5. Katariina Korkeila5,
  6. Mika Kivimäki6,
  7. Markku Koskenvuo7,
  8. Jussi Vahtera8
  1. 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Turku, and Harjavalta Hospital, Satakunta Hospital District, Finland
  2. 2Department of Public Health, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
  3. 3Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  4. 4Department of Public Health, Clinical Research Centre, Turku University Hospital, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
  5. 5Department of Health Centre of Raisio, Raisio Municipal Health Care and Social Services, Raisio, Finland
  6. 6Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK
  7. 7Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  8. 8Department of Public Health, University of Turku and Turku University Hospital and Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jyrki Korkeila; jyrki.korkeila{at}


Objectives Childhood adversities may be important determinants of later illnesses and poor health behaviour. However, large-scale prospective studies on the associations between childhood adversities and the onset of asthma in adulthood are lacking.

Design Prospective cohort study with 7-year follow-up.

Setting Nationally representative study. Data were collected from the Health and Social Support (HeSSup) survey and national registers.

Participants The participants represent the Finnish population from the following age groups: 20–24, 30–34, 40–44, and 50–54 years at baseline in 1998 (24 057 survey participants formed the final cohort of this study). The occurrence of childhood adversities was assessed at baseline with a six-item survey scale. The analyses were adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics, behavioural health risks and common mental disorders.

Primary and secondary outcomes The survey data were linked to data from national health registers on incident asthma during a 7-year follow-up to define new-onset asthma cases with verified diagnoses.

Results A total of 12 126 (59%) participants reported that they encountered a childhood adversity. Of them 3677 (18% of all) endured three to six adversities. During a follow-up of 7 years, 593 (2.9%) participants were diagnosed with incident asthma. Those who reported three or more childhood adversities had a 1.6-fold (95% CI 1.31 to 2.01) greater risk of asthma compared to those without childhood adversities. This hazard attenuated but remained statistically significant after adjustment for conventional risk factors (HR 1.33; 95% CI 1.06 to 1.67).

Conclusions Adults who report having encountered adversities in childhood may have an increased risk of developing asthma.

  • Psychiatry
  • Epidemiology

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

View Full Text

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.