Detecting Asthma in Young Patients

Breathing problems in young children can severely disrupt family life.

Doctors now have a new way to detect asthma in younger patients. 

Nine million children in the US have asthma and about 80% of children develop symptoms before they reach five.

Five-year-old twins Mary Elizabeth and Kaleigh were born prematurely. Their parents were told to watch out for future respiratory problems. Mother Maria Flavin tells us how it started "at about two and a half, they started with the chronic cough and they just labeled it, chronic cough, you know, airway issues." 

The doctors wouldn't label it asthma because the twins were too young for a definitive diagnostic test called spirometry

At Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh,Dr. Jonathan Finder is using new technology to diagnose asthma in children as young as three.  It's called oscillometry "All they have to do is breathe in a normal fashion, without effort."

While the two tests are quite different, the new one can show how severe a young child's asthma is. That way the doctor can start effective treatment sooner.

Dr. Finder says that's good because  "the secret to success in a disease like asthma is being anticipatory, and in knowing when to treat and treating aggressively."

A welcome development for families whose young children are suffering. Helping the whole family breathe easier.

The recently FDA approved test is available at some of the nation's leading asthma centers.

While childhood asthma is on the rise, the good news is six out of ten children with asthma will grow out of it.