PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Does your child wheeze when he’s sick? If so, he could have a higher risk of asthma.

“It makes sense that if someone has an inherited tendency to asthma, and also if they wheeze from infections, that both of those factors make them more likely to be an asthmatic,” says Dr. Ronald Landay of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Associates in Upper Saint Clair.

A Danish study in the “New England Journal of Medicine” looked at a group of 200 three-year-olds.

Ninty percent with a double combination of specific genes, and a history of wheezing with the common cold end up diagnosed with asthma by age six. With just one gene, the risk was 60 percent. With neither gene, the risk was 40 percent.

“It’s clear asthma has other genes involved,” says Dr. Landay.

In a different laboratory study, the common cold virus activates these genes in immune system cells.

“It would be nice to say we could have kids avoid getting colds, but in fact, the researchers found there was very little the parents could do to prevent that,” Dr. Landay continues.

While you can’t change your DNA, you can pay attention to symptoms.

If your preschooler wheezes, it could be a sign of asthma to come. And decreasing exposure to cigarette smoke and other irritants could help.

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Dr. Maria Simbra