child with asthma inhaler

A new genetic test may be able to predict a child's risk of having asthma that lasts into adulthood. With the cost of medical treatment for asthma and it's complications adding up to around $56 billion each year according to a survey from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this test could help doctors determine which children need intensive childhood care to potentially lower their risk of long-term symptoms. More from

This new study, published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine, uses fifteen specific, isolated genetic markers that are thought to be associated with the physical symptoms of the disease to develop what is called a genetic risk score. Over the course of the 40-year study of 880 participants conducted by researchers at Duke University, those with higher genetic scores were more likely to miss school or work or be hospitalized due to their asthma-related symptoms than those with lower scores. Based on a 38 year follow-up, those with higher scores also were more likely to have symptoms as adults.

Physicians currently use a patient's family history of asthma to help determine the patient's risk of the disease. However, since he genetic markers used to develop a person's genetic risk score do not take into account this family history of the disease, this research may mean that doctors need to rethink how they evaluate asthma risk factors in their patients.

Image: Child with asthma inhaler, via Shutterstock