The natural history of childhood rhinitis is not well described.
This study aimed to identify different rhinitis trajectories in early childhood and their predictors and allergic associations.
Rhinitis symptoms were ascertained prospectively from birth until 6 years using standardized questionnaires in 772 participants. Rhinitis was defined as one or more episodes of sneezing, runny and/or blocked nose >2 weeks duration. Latent trajectories were identified using group-based modelling and their predictive risk factors and allergic associations were examined.
Three rhinitis trajectory groups were identified: 7.6 % (n=59) were termed early transient rhinitis, 8.6 % (n=66) late transient rhinitis and 6.6 % (n=51) persistent rhinitis. The remaining 77.2 % (n=596) were classified as non-rhinitis/reference group. Early transient rhinitis subjects were more likely of Indian ethnicity, had siblings, reported childcare attendance, early wheezing and eczema in the first 3 years of life. Late transient rhinitis was associated with antenatal exposure to smoking, higher maternal education levels, and wheezing at age 36-72 months. Persistent rhinitis was associated with male gender, paternal and maternal history of atopy, eczema and house dust mite sensitization.
Risk factors for early transient rhinitis involve a combination of genetic and early environmental exposures, whereas late transient rhinitis may relate to maternal factors and early respiratory infections independent of atopy. In contrast, persistent rhinitis is strongly associated with atopic risk and likely represents the typical trajectory associated with allergic disorders. Allergic rhinitis symptoms may commence as early as the first year of life and may inform development of early interventive strategies.

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