JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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A clinical index to define risk of asthma in young children with recurrent wheezing.

Because most cases of asthma begin during the first years of life, identification of young children at high risk of developing the disease is an important public health priority. We used data from the Tucson Children's Respiratory Study to develop two indices for the prediction of asthma. A stringent index included frequent wheezing during the first 3 yr of life and either one major risk factor (parental history of asthma or eczema) or two of three minor risk factors (eosinophilia, wheezing without colds, and allergic rhinitis). A loose index required any wheezing during the first 3 yr of life plus the same combination of risk factors described previously. Children with a positive loose index were 2.6 to 5.5 times more likely to have active asthma between ages 6 and 13 than children with a negative loose index. Risk of having subsequent asthma increased to 4.3 to 9.8 times when a stringent index was used. We found that 59% of children with a positive loose index and 76% of those with a positive stringent index had active asthma in at least one survey during the school years. Over 95% of children with a negative stringent index never had active asthma between ages 6 and 13. We conclude that the subsequent development of asthma can be predicted with reasonable accuracy using simple, clinically based parameters.

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