Objective: Increased eosinophil level in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) characterizes asthma in school-age children and adults and has been suggested as a marker for disease severity and response to treatment. We aimed to investigate the occurrence and yield of BALF eosinophil cell count in preschool children with recurrent wheezing and its possible relation to future diagnosis of asthma. Methods: BALF was retrospectively studied in young wheezy children and its relation to asthma at age 6 years was evaluated. BALF from children aged 1–48 months (mean = 20.4) was analyzed in preschool wheezy children. Children with anatomical airway obstruction and other lower airway/lung diseases who underwent BALF served as controls. Assessment of asthma was accomplished at 6 years. Results: Eighty-two children were included. The mean age during bronchoscopy and BAL was 20.4 ± 14.4 months (range: 1–48 months). Twenty-six patients had recurrent preschool wheezing, 13 anatomical airway obstruction and 43 had other lower airways/lung diseases. Groups were comparable for age during bronchoscopy and gender. No difference was found between groups for any of the BALF cell types. Eosinophils were very low in all three groups [mean (interquartile range): 0 (0–0.4), 0 (0–0.8), and 0.4 (0–1), respectively, p = 0.25]. No difference in eosinophil levels during bronchoscopy was found between asthmatic children to non-asthmatic as defined at age 6 years. Conclusions: Wheezing in preschool children is not associated with increased BALF eosinophils; hence, at this age, the diagnostic yield of BALF for cell count analysis for diagnosing asthma is limited and is not routinely indicated.
- differential cell count