Inuit children in Nunavut, Canada, have high rates of lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) early in life. Whether this commonly results in chronic respiratory symptoms later in life is unknown.
A cross-sectional survey of 3- to 5-years-old Inuit children was conducted in all three regions of Nunavut, as part of the "Qanuippitali, what about us, how are we?" survey.
Reported chronic cough and wheezing were common in preschool Inuit children, although reported asthma diagnosed by a healthcare professional was uncommon. The presence of smokers in the home tended to be associated with severe LRTI in the first 2 years of life. Reported wheezing as well as reported bronchitis or pneumonia in the previous 12 months was significantly associated with severe LRTI in the first 2 years of life. Reported wheezing was also strongly associated with reported bronchitis or pneumonia in the past 12 months. The prevalence of chronic moist cough could not be clearly assessed, due to limitations in the questionnaire.
Severe LRTI in the first 2 years of life was associated with ongoing respiratory morbidity in preschool Inuit children, although symptoms appeared to lessen in severity over time.