A simple asthma prediction tool for preschool children with wheeze or cough

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Jan;133(1):111-8.e1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2013.06.002. Epub 2013 Jul 24.


Background: Many preschool children have wheeze or cough, but only some have asthma later. Existing prediction tools are difficult to apply in clinical practice or exhibit methodological weaknesses.

Objective: We sought to develop a simple and robust tool for predicting asthma at school age in preschool children with wheeze or cough.

Methods: From a population-based cohort in Leicestershire, United Kingdom, we included 1- to 3-year-old subjects seeing a doctor for wheeze or cough and assessed the prevalence of asthma 5 years later. We considered only noninvasive predictors that are easy to assess in primary care: demographic and perinatal data, eczema, upper and lower respiratory tract symptoms, and family history of atopy. We developed a model using logistic regression, avoided overfitting with the least absolute shrinkage and selection operator penalty, and then simplified it to a practical tool. We performed internal validation and assessed its predictive performance using the scaled Brier score and the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve.

Results: Of 1226 symptomatic children with follow-up information, 345 (28%) had asthma 5 years later. The tool consists of 10 predictors yielding a total score between 0 and 15: sex, age, wheeze without colds, wheeze frequency, activity disturbance, shortness of breath, exercise-related and aeroallergen-related wheeze/cough, eczema, and parental history of asthma/bronchitis. The scaled Brier scores for the internally validated model and tool were 0.20 and 0.16, and the areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves were 0.76 and 0.74, respectively.

Conclusion: This tool represents a simple, low-cost, and noninvasive method to predict the risk of later asthma in symptomatic preschool children, which is ready to be tested in other populations.

Keywords: API; AUC; Area under the receiver operating characteristic curve; Asthma; Asthma Predictive Index; LASSO; Least absolute shrinkage and selection operator; children; cohort study; cough; longitudinal; persistence; prediction; prognosis; wheeze.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allergens
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cough / diagnosis*
  • Cough / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Respiratory Sounds / diagnosis*
  • Risk
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom


  • Allergens