Send to

Choose Destination
Pediatr Pulmonol. 2005 Jun;39(6):558-62.

Skin-prick testing as a diagnostic aid for childhood asthma.

Author information

Department of Paediatric Respiratory Medicine, Royal London Hospital, London, UK.


Diagnosing asthma is problematic when based solely on reported symptoms. The purpose of this study was to evaluate skin-prick testing as a diagnostic aid for asthma in children. Skin-prick testing (SPT) was undertaken in children aged 2-10 years with either no history of wheeze (n = 149) or recent doctor-observed wheeze which responded to treatment with a bronchodilator, the "gold standard" (n = 164). Children with moderate or severe asthma were excluded. SPT positivity increased sharply at age 5 years in wheezers. Data were therefore divided into two age groups: 2- < 5 years (57 controls, 97 wheezers) and 5-10 years (92 controls, 67 wheezers). The sensitivity, specificity, and likelihood ratios of SPT positivity for wheeze were 32%, 89%, and 2.9, respectively, in the younger children, and 82%, 85%, and 5.5, respectively, in the older children. For a prevalence of 30% for asthma, the positive predictive values of a positive SPT were 55% and 70% for the younger and older age groups, respectively. The test characteristics of SPT for helping diagnose asthma in schoolchildren are good. The prevalence of wheeze in preschool children is high, and so SPT should be helpful even in this group. We suggest that clinicians consider skin-prick testing as a diagnostic aid for asthma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center