Making Asthma More Treatable

Tyson and Aysha Holtz, Pediatric Allergy, Asthma and ImmunologyWhile they may not think of themselves as "researchers," Tyson and Aysha Holtz of Reedsburg, Wisconsin have played a key role in advancing what we know about childhood asthma.

As lifelong participants in COAST - a leading asthma research study conducted by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health - these 10-year-old twins make it possible for scores of other children to be treated more effectively.

"Asthma is the leading serious chronic illness affecting children in the United States," says UW Health Pediatric Allergist Robert Lemanske, MD, leader of the COAST (Childhood Origins of Asthma) Study, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology.

"Thanks to children such as Tyson and Aysha," Lemanske says, "our research efforts have produced key findings that we believe will yield more effective treatments."

Chief among COAST's findings is that children who, by age 3, wheezed while experiencing a rhinovirus (the most common cause of a cold), were 10 times as likely as non-wheezers to develop asthma by age 6.

"This is significant for all parents and their doctors," Lemanske says, "because pediatricians everywhere can keep a very close eye on kids who wheeze by age 3 and start to treat them more aggressively. Our next goal is to discover what causes the wheezing in the first place."

More than 300 newborns with at least one asthmatic or allergic parent were initially recruited to enroll in the COAST study between 1998 and 2000.

As they grew into toddlers and children, they were watched closely to see: 1) if and when they developed asthma; and 2) what was common among those that became asthmatic.

Tyson and Aysha, who have been on the COAST study since they were born in 1999, yielded a split decision: Tyson developed asthma, while Aysha did not.

"Families such as the Holtzes are just phenomenal," says Kathy Roberg, RN, a UW senior clinical nurse specialist. "It is such a privilege that so many families have allowed us to be a part of their lives in an effort to help other children."

UW asthma researchers are always interested in hearing from families of children or individual adults with asthma as part of their overall research efforts. More information about research studies is available by calling toll-free (877) 942-7846.