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Genetic tests reveal long-term asthma risk

Genetic testing can indicate whether or not a child is likely to grow out of asthma, research has shown.

Results from a 40-year-long study have identified genetic changes which increase the chances of childhood asthma turning into a life-long condition by 36pc.

The findings suggest that genetic tests might prove a useful way to predict long-term asthma risk in the future.

But experts stress they are not yet advanced enough to be used in clinical practice.

Around half of all children with asthma will stop suffering symptoms by the time they reach adolescence or adulthood.

But at the moment there are no tests that can predict who may be expected to recover, and who may not.

CODE

Scientists have identified several single-letter changes to the genetic code that each carry a small increased risk of asthma.

The new study looked at 15 of these variants and used them to assign risk scores to individual children.

A total of 880 children were monitored for a period of 38 years. Those with higher genetic risk scores developed asthma earlier than those with lower scores. They also had a 36pc greater chance of developing persistent, life-long asthma.

High-scoring children were more likely to suffer from impaired lung function, to miss school or work, and to be hospitalised.

The research is reported in the journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

hnews@herald.ie


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