Teuila Fuatai

Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Test if child will grow out of asthma: Kiwi first

About half of children with asthma grow out of it by the time they reach adolescence or adulthood.Photo / Thinkstock
About half of children with asthma grow out of it by the time they reach adolescence or adulthood.Photo / Thinkstock

Parents whose children suffer from asthma may soon be able to predict whether they will be afflicted by the respiratory condition for the rest of their lives.

New research from Otago University's long-running multi-disciplinary study, which has followed about 1000 participants born between 1972-73 since birth, found those with childhood asthma and those who were genetically predisposed to the disease were more likely to be lifelong sufferers.

Findings showed these participants were 36 per cent more likely to develop asthma which persisted into adulthood, than those who had a lower genetic risk.

About 50 per cent of children with asthma grow out of it by the time they reach adolescence or adulthood.

Currently, there are no tests which can predict whether children will grow out of their asthma.

The research, which involved a team from Otago University and Duke University in North America, found boys and girls with a higher asthma "genetic risk score'' were more likely to have the disease persist throughout the 38 years they had so far been observed for than those with a lower score. The score is based on how many gene variants associated with asthma an individual had.

They also developed asthma earlier in life.

Lead author Dr Daniel Belsky of Duke University said the research revealed a person's "genetic risk'' could help predict which childhood-onset asthma cases developed into lifelong ones.

However, "genetic risk prediction for asthma is still in its infancy''.

"As additional risk genes are discovered, the value of genetic assessments is likely to improve,'' he said.

The research findings were published in the British Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal.

- APNZ

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