The Preschool Asthma Risk Factors Scale: A predictive tool for asthma and respiratory symptoms among preschool children in Lebanon

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Souheil Hallit
Clara Rahme
Hala Sacre
Mirna Waked
Pascale Salemeh


asthma; risk factors; cohort; preschool children; gender; heating system; Lebanon


Background: The Preschool Asthma Risk Factor Scale (PS-ARFS) is a tool that enables clinicians to assess environmental exposure of preschool children, history of parental asthma, and dietary habits. The objective of this study was to evaluate the PS-ARFS ability to predict asthma diagnosis and respiratory symptoms 1 year after baseline assessment and improve the scale if necessary.
Methods: A prospective cohort study conducted between November 2018 and March 2019 in three Lebanese schools (from three different Lebanese Governorates) enrolled 515 preschool children aged 3–5 years. Parents completed a detailed questionnaire sent with their children (Phase 1; T0). All parents who participated in Phase 1 were invited to take the same survey by telephone (Phase 2; T1), 1 year later. The interview was conducted by one study-independent person. Of the total sample, 141 (27.4%) children were lost to follow-up.
Results: Higher odds of asthma diagnosis at 1 year were significantly associated with playing outside (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 3.958) and having a heating system in the bedroom (aOR = 6.986) at baseline, but inversely associated with the female gender (aOR = 0.365). Based on those results, the improved PS-ARFS-I was generated. A higher PS-ARFS-I at T0 was significantly associated with higher odds of asthma at T1 (aOR = 1.08; p < 0.001; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05–1.10); similar results were obtained with the longer PS-ARFS (aOR = 1.079; p < 0.001; 95% CI 1.050–1.109). Moreover, among non-asthmatic children at baseline, the PS-ARFS score predicted wheezing and cough at T1 but not bronchial secretions; the PS-ARFS-I score at baseline did not predict symptoms at T1.

Conclusion: This study shows that the PS-ARFS-I and PS-ARFS could predict diagnosed asthma at 1-year follow-up. The PS-ARFS predicted respiratory symptoms (wheezing and cough) after 1 year among non-asthmatic children at baseline, suggesting that a score based on risk factors, measured early on, can predict better later symptoms and disease.

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