A major focus of the Leicester cohort studies has been, and still is, to identify the different types of breathing problems, so-called phenotypes, that commonly affect children.
An article on this subject by members of the Leicester study team was published in the August issue of the journal “Clinical and Experimental Allergy” (Spycher BD, Silverman M, Kuehni CE. Clin Exp Allergy 2010;40:1130-41).
The article provides an overview of how phenotypes of asthma in children are defined. In the past phenotypes have been defined by grouping together children who share particular features, such as having wheeze only during colds but not apart from colds. However it is unclear which features should be used to define the groups. Researchers are now using statistical computer programmes to automatically identify groups of similar children from the data collected on many children throughout their first years of life and early school-age. These methods have also been applied to the data collected on the children from the Leicestershire cohorts (Spycher BD et al. Eur Respir J 2008;31:974-81). In future these methods may help researchers understand the causes of different diseases affecting the lungs of young children.