Combination of genes, cold symptoms may trigger asthma in children

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A combination of genes and a symptom of the common cold can put kids at increased risk for asthma. It’s an association local researchers at the University of Chicago have confirmed and it may help lead to therapies to prevent the most common chronic illness in young kids.


University of Chicago medicine researcher Carole Ober and her team studied groups of children from families at high risk for asthma. They looked closely at kids with a copy of a genetic marker on chromosome 17. Then they factored in a symptom some experience while fighting a cold: wheezing. It’s happens when airways constrict.


The team published their report about the powerful combination in in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine. For kids with one genetic marker, 60% percent who wheezed with a cold went on to develop asthma. For those with two copies, meaning one from the father and one passed on from the mother, 90% had asthma by age 6.

The next step is to figure out why airway cells in children with the gene variant respond differently to the common cold. Researchers are hoping that could help lead to targeted therapies to reduce the incidence of asthma.


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