The free running asthma screening test (FRAST) was used to screen children in a state middle school during a normal physical education lesson. The test was conducted by the teachers with a general practitioner available via a radiopager. Of the 249 children attending the school, aged 8-12 years, 237 (95%) were tested. Twenty two (9%) children were known to have asthma, of whom 18 were tested. Thirty one children had a significant decrease (> 15%) in their peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) after exercise. Six of these children were known to have asthma, indicating that their asthma treatment may be suboptimal. A further six children assessed clinically had false positive results. The 31 children with significant decreases in their PEFR were matched for age and sex with a control group of 30 children who were considered to have a normal result. Of the control group, one child had clinical asthma. In total, 19 (8%) new cases of asthma were identified, giving an overall prevalence of asthma in the school of 16%. These results indicate that it is feasible to screen schools for asthma using the FRAST. Children with undiagnosed asthma can be identified and the control of children with known asthma monitored.
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