Asthma (Children)

Asthma (Children): Understanding Your Results

What is asthma?

  • Asthma is a common lung disease. Asthma symptoms such as wheezing, cough, shortness of breath, fast breathing, or tightness in the chest, are due to narrowing of the airway tubes. Asthma is a lifelong disease that can be controlled.
  • Things in the environment like animal fur, mold, household dust, cigarette smoke, and strong smells can cause asthma attacks.
  • A person’s genetics can also influence their chances of getting asthma.

What does high risk for asthma mean?

  • High risk for asthma means the study’s genetic test showed your child’s risk is higher than most children. Exposure to allergens or other asthma triggers can further increase your child’s risk.
  • Your child’s polygenic risk score (PRS) is in the top 5%. This means that your child may have a higher genetic risk for asthma than 95 out of 100 people.
  • On average, about 1 in 10 children, or 10% of children, will get asthma before reaching 18 years of age. Your child’s risk is about 2 times higher than a child not in the high-risk category.
  • This means your child has about a 20%, or 2 in 10, risk of developing asthma before age 18 years.
  • This result does not mean that your child has asthma or that your child will definitely develop asthma in their lifetime.
  • This PRS was created using genetic information from large research studies of people of many different descents.
    • DNA differences in each population were picked up that are linked to asthma risk.
    • This score was tested using genetic information from other research studies with different populations and was accurate. See the Broad PRS report attached.

What can you do to lower your risk for asthma?

  • Not everyone who is at high risk for asthma will get it. Talk to your doctor(s) or healthcare provider about how to decrease your child’s chances of getting asthma.
  • You can do the following to lower your child’s risk:
    • Do not allow smoking in your home, car, or around your child
    • Make sure your child avoids known allergens
    • Have your child get a flu shot each year
    • Put dust mite / allergy-free covers that zip on your child’s mattress, pillow, and box springs
    • Remove carpets from your child’s sleeping area and your child’s play area
    • Use air conditioning and keep windows closed if possible
    • Get a free health department home check for things that can make health worse like cockroaches or rodents
    • Keep shower curtains, refrigerator doors, bathtub, and window corners free of mildew or mold growth
    • Do not use pesticide sprays, foggers, or bombs. Diatomaceous food grade pesticides are an asthma friendly alternative (found at local hardware / grocery stores)
  • Discuss medications and other treatments with your doctor(s) or other healthcare provider.
  • These actions can also decrease asthma attacks in children who have been diagnosed with asthma.

    What are your next steps?

    • You should share these results with your child’s doctor(s) or other healthcare providers to discuss actions to be taken to lower your child’s risk.
    • You may also want to share your results with your family members.
    • Your child’s results will be uploaded to your child’s electronic health record for you to review and will be available to your child’s doctor(s) and other healthcare providers.
    • If you have any questions about your results, please contact the study team at your institution. You can find this contact information on the cover of the GIRA.

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