The free running asthma screening test (FRAST) was evaluated in 503 Sheffield schoolchildren aged 6 to 12 years and compared with responses to an asthma questionnaire. The FRAST measured peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) before and at 1, 5, and 10 minutes after maximum voluntary running for at least 5 minutes in a standardised environment. A fall in PEFR of greater than 15% in at least two postexercise readings was defined as abnormal. Six (1%) children did not do the test and 69 (14%) failed to complete it. Of these, 14 were known asthmatics, 18 were not testable, and 37 were normal when retested. There were 14 abnormal FRAST results among 412 'normal' children who completed the test and 10 of these were subsequently diagnosed asthmatic. None of 14 children with an abnormal FRAST result had been identified as wheezy, chesty, or asthmatic in the questionnaire. In this sample there was, on average, one child in every school class with unrecognised exercise induced bronchospasm. The FRAST is an acceptable, feasible, and cost effective way of identifying such potential asthmatics at school.
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