A New Free Online Tool Can Assess Your Child's Asthma Risk
Trying to predict whether children will develop asthma is not a new pursuit. People who have asthma themselves or who know that their children carry risk factors that may increase their children’s likelihood of getting the disease are eager to get their hands on information that can help them predict whether their children will one day have asthma. To date, most of the tools to help assess children’s risk of developing asthma have been binary, meaning that their readout simply says that a child is or is not likely to develop asthma.
A new online tool, the Pediatric Asthma Risk Score (PARS) is a free way to evaluate asthma risk in young children, and it gives a more dynamic picture of a child’s asthma risk than other tools can. PARS asks questions related to 6 known risk factors for asthma: parental asthma, race, allergy skin test results, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. The output of the tool is a percentage likelihood that the child will have asthma by the time he or she is 7 years old.
Compared to the sensitivity of the standard Asthma Predictive Index (API), that of PARS is 11% higher. Researchers hope that they will be able to incorporate more risk factors into the tool over time so that it becomes even more sensitive.
Tools like PARS can be helpful for parents not only to alleviate the worry they may feel about the potential for their child to develop asthma but also to help them to be proactive when their child is at significant risk. Those who find that their child is likely to develop asthma can learn how to best monitor their child and help to ensure that they intervene early if intervention is indeed needed.
Given that PARS is more sensitive than other tools for assessing as asthma risk in young children, it could become very useful for clinicians and parents. Other benefits of the tool are that it is free, non-invasive, and provides more information than other tools.