October 10, 2008

Kids’ Asthma Diagnosis Can Be a Challenge

The diagnosis of asthma in a young child may be more challenging to pediatricians than previously appreciated, U.S. researchers suggest.

A review of research by Dr. Howard Eigen of the Indiana University School of Medicine and Riley Hospital for Children found that the difficulty of accurate diagnosis of asthma is often underestimated by pediatricians who may link it to a passing cold or other non-serious condition.

Establishing a diagnosis of asthma in young wheezing children also can be challenging for the physician because the type, severity and frequency of asthma symptoms vary widely among children and sometimes even with an individual child, Eigen says.

The paper, published in Clinical Pediatrics, reported that symptoms consistent with asthma in young children include recurrent wheeze associated with such triggers as viral infection or exercise; cough, chronic bronchitis; recurrent pneumonia; and increased bronchial hyper-reactivity, such as cough or wheeze with mild exercise.

"These symptoms can also be symptoms of conditions other than asthma so it is important for parents and pediatricians to assess the frequency and patterns of the symptoms, for example, if they are seasonal or perennial, if they are episodic versus continuous, or if there is a day versus night variation," Eigen said in a statement.