Purpose of review: There is currently limited ability to identify which infants and young children with recurrent wheezing will ultimately develop persistent asthma. In addition, it is not clear how risk factors influence the development of asthma in later childhood and adulthood. This review will discuss efforts to categorize these children with recurrent wheezing and develop asthma-predictive tools.
Recent findings: Transient and persistent wheezing phenotypes have been identified with atopy, reduced lung function, and viral and bacterial respiratory infection as major risk factors for persistence of asthma. Children with severe asthma tend to have greater magnitude of atopy and lower lung function than those with mild-moderate asthma. These phenotypes and risk factors have been described in previous studies and are supported by the recent literature.
Summary: Heterogeneity of wheezing phenotypes may account for different responses to treatment and varied outcomes. Overlap in phenotypes and instability over time also add additional challenges to defining discrete groups of children with specific outcomes. Further studies are needed to determine combinations of variables that may improve phenotype designation with the goal of improving asthma prevention and treatment as well as predicting outcomes and understanding the pathogenesis of asthma.