TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – Researchers at the University of Arizona Health Sciences are working to prevent wheezing and asthma in preschoolers by looking at the effects of azithromycin therapy.
The national study will focus on preschoolers between the ages of 2-5 who are diagnosed with a severe wheezing episode in hospital emergency departments.
According to UA Health Sciences, more than 2.2 million children experience wheezing episodes that are so severe that they require an emergency hospital visit each year in the United States. As many as 15% of these children require hospitalization.
Kurt Denninghoff, MD, professor and associate head of research, said researchers already know that bacteria and viruses are both associated with the risk of wheezing episodes and asthma in preschoolers, and therefore the treatment is very effective. He said the team will look at whether the drug is effective because it treats inflammation, or because it eliminates the bacteria that cause wheezing.
Whatever the results, Denninghoff said the study will always change asthma treatment.
“Now we have a group of medications that are really beneficial to children with moderate to severe asthma and those medications haven’t really changed in 15 to 20 years,” Denninghoff said. “If we knew Azithromycin worked for it, it would be part of the toolset that a doctor needs to care for children with asthma. So, it’s a big deal.”
The researchers used a $ 6.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to target three pathogenic bacteria that are commonly found in the throats of children who wheeze. The team will also analyze participants by racial and ethnic subgroups to identify areas for further investigation.
It aims to enroll 1,500 children aged 18 months to 5 years.
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