FRIDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- People with more genetic
risks for asthma are not only more likely to develop the disease in
childhood, but also more likely to continue to have asthma into
adulthood, according to a new study.
Previous studies have linked several genes to increased asthma
risk, so the researchers wanted to investigate the cumulative
effect of those genes.
For the study, they analyzed data from 880 people in New Zealand
who have been followed since they were born in 1972 or 1973. Those
with more genetic risks for asthma developed asthma earlier in life
than those with fewer genetic risks. Among study participants who
developed asthma in childhood, asthma that persisted into adulthood
was more likely in those with more genetic risks.
These patients also had more allergic reactions associated with
severe and persistent asthma and developed lung function problems.
Their quality of life also suffered because they missed work and
school more often and were admitted to hospital more often due to
The study appears June 28 in
The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
"We've been able to look at how newly discovered genetic risks
relate to the life course of asthma at an unprecedented level of
resolution," Daniel Belsky, a postdoctoral fellow at the Duke
Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy and the Center for the
Study of Aging and Human Development, said in a university news
However, much more research is needed before it may be possible
to use genetic risk scores for asthma in patients, he noted.
"It will be important to explore how these genetic risks play
out in environments that differ in terms of air pollution or other
important, modifiable factors," Belsky said.
He added that the study could lead to a better understanding of
the biology of asthma and help efforts to develop new ways to
prevent and treat asthma, which affects 26 million people in the
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more