Asthma severity in childhood, untangling clinical phenotypes


  • The study is performed within the the Oslo Research Group of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood, the lung and Environment (ORAACLE) and Nordic SEARCH affiliations; both part of the GA2LEN network.

Astri Lang, Department of Pediatrics, Oslo University Hospital, Ullevål, N- 0407 Oslo, Norway
Tel.: +47 22117614/+47 41564067
Fax: +47 23015790


Lang A, Mowinckel P, Sachs-Olsen C, Riiser A, Lunde J, Carlsen K-H, Lødrup Carlsen KC. Asthma severity in childhood, untangling clinical phenotypes.
Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2010: 21: 945–953.
© 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S

Assessment of childhood asthma severity and asthma control encompasses heterogeneous clinical presentations. The relationship between patterns of asthma symptoms and objective measurements is poorly defined in paediatric asthma. This study includes 115 asthmatic schoolchildren, of which 31 were at inclusion defined as Problematic severe asthma because of inadequate asthma control in the presence of high-dose inhaled corticosteroid (HD-ICS) treatment and at least one other asthma controller drug. Two partially overlapping clinical outcomes were defined irrespective of severity classification (Exacerbations and Chronic persistent asthma) in patients with uncontrolled asthma. The same symptom criteria were used as for Problematic severe asthma, but disregarding current medication. Lung function, exhaled nitric oxide (FENO), bronchial hyperresponsiveness, allergic sensitization and Quality of life (QoL) in the symptom subgroups were compared to children with well-controlled asthma. Multifactor analysis was performed to assess the relative explanatory power of clinical asthma presentations and of HD-ICS treatment on objective measurements. Whereas children included in the Exacerbations subgroup had objective features similar to patients with well-controlled asthma, the Chronic persistent asthma subgroup demonstrated significantly reduced lung function, increased immunoglobin E, allergic poly-sensitization and impaired QoL, similar to that in patients pre-defined as Problematic severe asthma. The presence of chronic asthma symptoms was a significant explanatory factor for reduced lung function, QoL and increased FENO in multifactor analysis. Differences in objective measurements suggest that children with Chronic persistent asthma and those who are symptomatic predominantly during exacerbations may represent distinct phenotypes of childhood asthma with different clinical prognoses.