Since preschool wheezing is the common expression of several heterogeneous disorders, identification of children at risk for persistent asthma is particularly challenging. To date, efforts to predict the outcome of preschool wheeze have mainly relied on predictive rules consisting of simple clinical and laboratory parameters. Among these tools, the asthma predictive index (API) has been introduced in international guidelines and position papers and is recommended for use in clinical practice. This article reviews the currently available asthma predictive models focusing on their validity and performance characteristics. Although these tools are generally simple and easy to apply, they suffer important intrinsic and practical limitations and they have been insufficiently validated to allow for widespread use in clinical settings. We also present evidence that their ability to predict the long-term outcome of preschool wheeze is limited in general populations, and even poorer in high-risk children in which prediction of asthma persistence might have important clinical and prognostic implications. Due to the complex and multifactorial nature of asthma, prediction of asthma persistence based on simple clinical models is practically impossible.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.