Research carried out by the University Medical Centre in the Netherlands claims up to half of children diagnosed with asthma might not actually have the condition.
The study, which will be published in the British Journal of General Practice, was conducted following claims last year by the NHS watchdog that a third of asthmatic adults had probably been misdiagnosed.
Looking at 652 Dutch children aged between six and 18 who were diagnosed with asthma, found that 53% were “unlikely” to have or did not have the condition.
Those involved in the study concluded that doctors are not carrying out appropriate lung function tests on kids or assessing them properly.
According to reports, over-treatment is cause for concern as medication used to manage the condition can cause muscle cramps, tremors, vomiting and throat infections.
Exerts say a “more structured diagnostic strategy including lung function testing in children under suspicion of having asthma is warranted' to avoid overdiagnosis.”
“Empirical diagnosis of asthma (based on doctors' experience rather than test results) should be avoided," the study adds.
Talking to the Telegraph, Dr Ingrid Looijmans-van den Akker said: "Only in a few children was the diagnosis of asthma confirmed using lung function tests, despite this being recommended in international guidelines. Over-diagnosis gives rise to over-prescription and incorrect use of medication and to the anxiety in parents and children.”
Professor Mark Baker, director of clinical practice at National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said: "Nice is developing a guideline to provide advice for primary, secondary and community care healthcare professionals on the most suitable tests for accurately diagnosing asthma and how to help people monitor and control their symptoms."
"As part of this work, Nice is inviting GP practices to take part in a project to check the feasibility of some diagnostic tests that Nice proposes to recommend. Relevant research like the BJGP paper is helpful in informing the Nice asthmas guideline development."
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