Pediatric asthma: Natural history, assessment, and treatment
Wheezing and childhood asthma are not synonymous but rather comprise a heterogeneous group of conditions that have different outcomes over the course of childhood. Most infants who wheeze have a transient condition associated with diminished airway function at birth and have no increased risk of asthma later in life. However, children with persistent wheezing throughout childhood and frequent exacerbations represent the main challenge today. Studying the natural history of asthma is important for the understanding and accurate prediction of the clinical course of different phenotypes. To date, a great improvement has been achieved in reducing the frequency of asthma symptoms. However, neither decreased environmental exposure nor controller treatment, as recommended by the recent National Asthma Education And Prevention Program, can halt the progression of asthma in childhood or the development of persistent wheezing phenotype. This review focuses on the recent studies that led to the current understanding of asthma phenotypes in childhood and the recommended treatments.